Monday November 26th will mark the one year anniversary of the passing of our dear Ana Rukavina Erceg. Here is what Ana’s mother, Marija Rukavina, has to say about the past year:
First there was the shock, then disbelief, endless sorrow and finally painfully coping with the reality – I am no longer going to Rebro everyday, but to Mirogoj, because those dearest to me are now there, Ana and her father Gordan, together.
What is there to say about the past year? I think it is enough to say, Ana Rukavina Foundation! There is no corner of our country in which they have not heard about Ana. Thousands of young people have recognized honesty and the cry for life, they have become members of our family, the biggest family in Croatia, in which membership is achieved by voluntarily donating bone marrow or donating a few Kuna to save a life.
Ana gave me a job, as if she had planned it all, to continue what she had started with her message. She believed that with joint efforts we CAN raise the necessary funds to develop the voluntary bone marrow donor Registry and establish the cord blood bank. We can do it and we must do it – for the benefit of all of us. It is the fundamental right of every family to ensure that their children’s cord blood stem cells are stored in case their children need it. It is the right of every human being and every citizen to offer help to our friends, neighbors, parents, and our own children by way of the Registry and Bank. Making that right a reality is the mission of our joint humanitarian campaigns. I am doing this for those people you do not see, those who are suffering sad-eyed in the silence of sterile units…. the little bald heads.
All of Ana’s friends and all of our dear friends at the Foundation continue to work together. We work for the father employed at Ploče Harbor who sends 25 Kuna from his salary to the Foundation every month. And we work for the mother from Vukovar who was the first to deposit 50 Kuna in Ana’s account. There are many such people in our country… and with the help of these wonderful people we have raised 4,400,000 Kuna.
Everyone recognizes our good work and we receive confirmation of that every day. Our volunteers, members of our Management and Executive Boards – all work for free and without pay. We work with generous hearts in order to fulfill our promises to Ana. There is such a thing as honest and good work, which we have shown because our hearts are in this, in this humanitarian cause. Of course, we would not have been able to achieve this without the great help of dear journalists, cameramen and reporters, Ana’s colleagues from her office at Vjesnik, as well as all the other media who have followed us and helped us with each of our campaigns starting from that cold November day in 2006 until today.
With the money we raised, we bought the necessary equipment for the voluntary bone marrow donor Registry, for tissue typing blood samples, the equipment for the first public cord blood bank, which carries Ana’s name, all of which are located at Rebro Hospital. Until today, we have invested 3,438,360.42 Kuna. However, in order to finish the entire project for tissue typing we still need to raise roughly 28 million Kuna more.
The most disheartening part of this project is that we often encounter a lack of understanding from those who should be the most understanding, a lack of interest from those authorities who you would expect to be the most interested and who are paid to work because that is their job. In spite of that, we will keep going, until we reach 30,000 voluntary donors, which will happen soon. We will continue with the help of good people to collect donations in order to tissue type as many of the collected samples in the Registry and Bank. That is our mission which Ana left to us as her legacy. I strongly believe that after the end of our Foundation’s activities, the institutions will find the strength and the funds to successfully develop and lead the Registry and Bank in the future.
After that I will go as quietly as I came, because as a mother I will have done everything that I promised my angel.
I would like to thank the thousands of wonderful people who have been a part of our mission, in one way or another. I think we have done a lot and have given chances and hope to the many people who are lying in silence in their hospital rooms and sterile units, who simply want LIFE!