Moldova, 2011 | medicine for kids

PROJECT: getting vital medicine to 9 kids with leukemia in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova


TIMING: June-August 2010; throughout 2011

COLLABORATORS: Rodica Groza (journalist), Liquidnet employees, Daniel Coltuc (Libertatea daily), Pizzeria Celentano (Chisinau), private donors


Status: completed- WE DID IT!!!-  a new initiative stemmed out and will be launched soon


The project started when I caught wind of Rodica, a local journalist, trying to collect surprise gifts for the 9 children in the juvenile section of the Oncology Institute in Chisinau. Most of them had been in the hospital for over half a year, waiting for a treatment that was either not accessible in the country or untouchable price-wise. Rodica was hoping to bring a smile on their face by granting them each a wish on June 1st (celebrated in the Republic of Moldova as Children’s Day).


I offered to buy the pedal car one of the little boys wished for, and after my first conversation with Rodica it became apparent that the most important thing these kids needed was not a toy, but medicine. While chemo treatments were free, their effects were dramatic as most of the children were malnourished and their immune systems were already very weak. To boost their tiny bodies and make them strong enough to go through the entire treatment, they needed a medicine called Neupogen, very common with cancer patients around the world. The price for Neupogen is $100/ vial, and each of these kids needed only one. Without it, they would have had to stop chemo before it killed them, but then keep fading under the combined effects of cancer and chemo. In other words, these children were stuck between a rock and a hard place, and basically waiting to die.


So I decided to help, with Rodica’s assistance on the other side.

I collected money from my coworkers, from my family, from my friends. I collected material donations of all kinds that I then sold at a yard sale. I copied and translated the medical records and prescriptions for all the kids. I called and talked to over 50 different foundations in the States and abroad to ask where I can purchase the medicine without a local prescription, and how can I ship it or transport it given its unstable formula. When the corrupt doctors tried to stop me from bringing the medicine, I went straight to the Ministry of Health and got my permissions there. I collected toys, blankets and other goods from all over the world and got them shipped to either Romania (from where someone drove them over the border) or straight to Moldova. I wrote an article that got posted in a Romanian daily paper and attracted more donations. And finally, when I found no other way to get the medicine to Chisinau, I bought a ticket out of my own pocket, flew the Neupogen there myself (imagine the security- related issues trying to fly with 22 syringes filled with a sensitive chemical substance, on ice!) and put it directly in the hands of the mothers. Straight to destination.


In the end, for 2 of the 9 children it was too late. But instead of 9 vials, I got 22- and the extras were given to other kids, with other kinds of cancer. We granted many wishes, from ice cream to a computer. We got all the children in the hospital sweets, and little trinkets, and blankets, and we made them happy that day. For the older ones, we convinced their local idols to come and spend some time at the hospital. We involved a television and got a few sponsors that to this day continue to drop by with little presents. And through the article I wrote in the Romanian newspaper we found another donor who agreed to pay for the next round of kids going through chemo.


In the end, people and organizations from 11 countries were involved. The result is that the campaign caused so much stir that it became self-sustaining… and is about to take another major turn through a new initiative about to be launched soon.


Stay tuned.



Great day to do some good, isn’t it?



The medicine


In the hospital


Keeping track of donations, by hand


The car for Petrica


The yard sale in NYC


A mother gets the medicine for her child

More pictures HERE.






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