Please help Natasha Gagarina

Ann Lindvall Ann.Lindvall at LING.LU.SE
Mon Nov 9 14:25:20 UTC 1998

To all ALT Linglist readers

This letter reached me from Magdalena Smoczynska. It is about a Russian
linguist, Natasha Gagarina and her 8 year old son Toni who suffers from
leukemia. Right now he is receiving treatment in Berlin, but this costs
more than a single person can afford. If somebody wants to help them,
please read this letter and try and spread it to other people you know. The
case is posted on 'info-childes' bulletin board on Netscape October 20,


From: "Magdalena Smoczynska" <ULSMOCZY at>
Organization:  Coll. Paderevianum, Jagiell.Univ.
To: Ann Lindvall <ling-ali at>
Date:          Sun, 8 Nov 1998 19:18:42 GMT+1
Priority: normal

Dear Colleagues,

this is an extemely urgent CALL FOR HELP in behalf of our Russian colleague
NATASHA GAGARINA from St. Petersburg (Herzen Pedagogical University, Dept.
of Child Language Studies).

The situation is as follows: Natasha spent the entire academic year 1997/98
in Vienna, on a scholarship, working with Prof. Wolfgang Dressler. During
her stay in Austria she was accompanied by her son Anton (Toni), aged 8.
Anton is her only child and presently she is his only caretaker. In the
fall  of 1998 she was supposed to start working on a project in Berlin and
to go there with her son.

However, in July, shortly after they left Vienna for St. Petersburg, Toni
got sick and was found to suffer from an extremely severe form of acute
leukemia (monoblastic bone marrow leukemia, type M5). His state was so bad
that he had to be hospitalized immediately in St. Petersburg and to take
massive chemotherapy there. As if it were not enough, the economic crisis
in Russia got into its most (?) dramatic phase about the same time, which
meant no money for hospitals (among other things). Even if doctors were
trying to do their best, Toni had no chance there to recover there.

[UPDATE: Actually, it was found later that some serious errors in treatment
were made in one of the hospitals].

Thanks to combined efforts of Natasha's friends and colleagues, Natasha and
Toni have
moved to Berlin at the beginning of October. Toni's treatment was taken
over by the university clinic in Berlin. However this is extremely
  the ambulant treatment costs 848.- DM (= ca. $520) per day
  the stationary treatment - 2.416,- DM (= ca. $1490) per day.

Toni is treated partly on ambulant basis, partly at the children station,
depending on how he feels and how his immunity system works in a given
moment. So far, the therapy costs in Berlin have been in large part covered
by private donors from Vienna, Berlin and other places (As some of you
know, in September I collected some money on behalf of Natasha from
participants of two conferences: Child Language Seminar in Sheffield, and
the conference on narration in Kazimierz, Poland. This money has been
forwarded to Natasha.) Unfortunately, the money donated IS RUNNING OUT VERY

There are some (still unclear) chances that a health insurance will start
to cover at least some part of these very high therapy costs. In this
situation we urgently appeal to all of you to make donations in behalf of

There is an account of a charitable organisation in Germany where donations
can be made for him. The Kinderluftbruecke e.V. (Children's Air Bridge) is
a private foundation whose goal is to help children in Russia. Their
address is:
      Kinderluftbruecke e.V.
      Brabantstrasse 59A
      22297 Hamburg
      tel. +49-40-5110154
The account:
      Account holder:   Kinderluftbruecke e.V.
      Bank: Haspa (= Hamburger Sparkasse)
      Account number: 1221-122300
      Routing symbol (Bankleitezahl): 20050550
      Code word: Toni

For those who will send money it is important 1. to ask for a confirmation
(receipt) and 2. to send an email message to me
<ulsmoczy at> stating the sum that has been paid, so that
we know the amount of money at Natasha's disposal. This is what I was told
by our German colleague Dagmar Bittner <dabitt at> from the
Zentrum fuer Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Universalienforschung und
Typologie in Berlin, who has helped Natasha and Toni a lot and continues to
help them. Since Dagmar is under a lot of stress and has plenty to do
anyway, I think it is better that you contact me, and I will send Dagmar
the financial (and other) information in a processed format.

In view of what has been told, it is extremely important 1. to find and
approach potential donors of possibly large sums (organizations,
enterprises, private donors), 2. to ask as many private donors of smaller
sums as possible and maybe also 3. to decentralize the collection of
donations, e.g. by opening local bank accounts (or approaching a local help
organization to open a sub-account for Toni) in countries with a large
number of potential donors so that we avoid losing money on paying
international transfer costs.

Therefore I appeal to those of you who can help as volunteers in individual
countries as well as those who have ideas, information about anything
related to this matter. Maybe it could be possible to use the IASCL bank
accounts in US and in Belgium for this purpose? Are there other lists than
info-childes that we could send this message to? Maybe the Linguist List?
What else?

Please feel free to write to me about whatever you can think of. If you
want to send a personal message for Natasha, you can also use my e-mail
address and I can forward messages to her. Since I cannot help them with a
lot of money, I am prepared to give them my time in the coming weeks and

For those who do not know Natasha personally, I want to tell you that she
has had so much hard time in her life that some of us hardly can imagine,
yet she is a person full of courage and good will, caring for others. And
Tony is a very sick little boy, with plenty of courage and hope...

Magdalena Smoczynska, Ph.D.
Chair of General & Indo-European Linguistics
Jagiellonian University
Al. Mickiewicza 9/11
31-120 Krak¢w, Poland
ulsmoczy at



Thank you to all of you who made donations to the Kinderluftbruecke. I
visited Natasha & Anton in Berlin last weekend, and they were going to
start the next phase of chemotherapy. The financial situation is not yet
clarified, therefore funds are still needed for the child to continue the

American donors: cheques can be sent to

Barbara Zurer Pearson, Ph.D.
Project Manager, NIH Working Group on AAE

Department of Communication Disorders
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
117 Arnold House
Amherst MA 01003
fax 545-0803
bpearson at

Barbara Pearson says: "Make checks payable to KINDERFUFTBRUECKE or BARBARA
PEARSON  and include a note with your name, address and phone,  in case
someone needs to contact you about it. I will  prepare receipts and forward
the money (and an accounting  of it) according to Magdalena's

We are working on the issue of collecting money on a tax-exempt account of
an American charity, but did not find thesolution yet.

Italian donors should get in touch with Giuseppe Cappelli
<beppe at>
The account number is:
numero 7500 della Banca Nazionale del Lavoro
intestato a CRAL-CNR sezione Pisa
ABI 1005
Cabi 14000
Please add: "Versamento per le cure di Toni"

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