Childhood Cancer Fund Rugutė

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The journey of Swedish Elves to Lithuania

On 13 December, for the seventh time in a row, five Rugutė‘s friends – elves came to Lithuania from Sweden. These were the notorious Stefan, chief-elf Anita, interpreter Ieva and fifteen year old students Mimmi and Filip. Later on Stefan’s daughter Olivia joined this elf party.

As on the previous journeys, the elves came to Klaipėda by ferry and drove throughout Lithuania by minibus full of gifts for the Lithuanian children collected and beautifully packed in seasonal wrappings by the Swedish students.

On the first day, which was Friday, the elves traditionally popped in to see their little friend Domantas and his little brother Danielius, who lived in Gargždai. After staying there for a while the elves turned to Kaunas, where they visited little patients of the Children’s Disease Clinics of Kauno Klinikos (Hospital of Lithuanian University of Health Sciences) and cheered them up with the gifts from Sweden. In the evening the elf minibus turned to Vilnius, where our wonderful travelers stayed the night.

On Saturday the elves visited the Children’s Oncohematology Department at the Children’s Hospital of Santariškių Klinikos of Vilnius University Hospital. There they not only distributed gifts, but also performed juggle tricks, sang and danced and wished peaceful holidays to the little patients and their parents.

In the afternoon the little ones with their mothers and fathers gathered together at Rugutė’s Home patiently waiting for the moment when they would be able to get more closely acquainted with the jolly elves and spend some lovely time with them outside the hospital environment. The elves started the afternoon gathering with a special walk of St. Lucia’s Day celebrated in Sweden and traditional songs performed in Swedish. Afterwards it was the children’s turn to show off their talents. After listening to their poems the elves presented the children with the gifts prepared by the Swedish children and, to make it more fun, didn’t forget to teach them some juggle tricks. After all the presents were distributed everybody – both the children and elves – crowded together for one more piece of entertainment – decorating the Christmas tree.

On Saturday evening Rugutė’s Fund also received an incredible present. During the campaign in Sweden the total amount of 29 300 LTL was collected and presented to Rugutė.

On Sunday the guests from Sweden again turned towards Kaunas. There six families waited for their visit at their own homes. As every year the day started from visiting Kaunas Christmas tree which adorned Rotušės Square which has become a tradition.

The first one to open his home’s door wide was Ditas who was well prepared to meet the elves: his home was decorated with the banner written in Swedish and when the time came to part he presented the elves with his handmade postcards with Swedish holiday felicitations. Not for the first time the elves visited Liepa’s home. The girl recited a poem for the elves and treated everybody to some dainties. The elves also visited Emilija for the second time. The girl introduced her new pet – a turtle – to them. Dovas tried to perform some juggle tricks together with the elves and his sister sang, recited poems and played the piano. Domas showed the elves the ship’s model which he constructed in his free time and the cups with which the boy was awarded at the ship model’s competitions. Finally the elves also visited little Emilytę, with whom they also had got acquainted previously. The girl and her sister invited the elves to play a game with them and sent the elves off with the presents of her hand-drawn postcards and homemade honey cakes.

On Monday evening tired but happy elves left for Sweden.

Shortly afterwards the letters from Sweden written by the elves with their journey impressions reached us! We also asked the children to share their memories from the meetings with the elves with us:

We always come to Lithuania to give, but also get so much in return: warmth, love, care and lots of presents carefully prepared for us by children and their parents. Thank you so much Edita, Dainoras, Linas and all volunteers who take such great care of us. Hugs. Chief-elf Anita

When I come to Lithuania I feel as if I have come to my second home, to my own family. Everybody is so nice and warm. The annual elf journey has become an important part of my life. Elf Stefan

For the fourth year I have been privileged to come to Lithuania with the elves and visit these wonderful children. Each year I am inspired by the courage, battles, hope and joy of the children and their families. It feels so good to visit the families and witness how much effort is put in by the children and their parents while anticipating our visit! Such amazing treats and exceedingly beautiful presents made by the children. Such strong families and such heroic children! Huge thanks to Edita, Dainoras and Linas and all Rugutė’s Fund helpers! Interpreter Ieva

My impressions of this journey are similar to the stories told by my father about the previous journeys: huge children’s smiles, sparks in their eyes like stars on an unclouded dark night starting to glitter on beholding a Christmas elf. I saw all this with my own eyes and felt that this was the best experience of my life. I hope that next year I will be able to come here with new presents and meet once again those fantastic and strong people, who turn all of this into reality. I was most surprised by the fact how strong the children are – hard as it is for them they still are able to kick the cancer in the ass! This is what fascinates me most. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? I feel happy being able to say: I’ve met the coolest heroes in Lithuania! Love, Olivia.

I greatly enjoyed the journey and would like to repeat all of it once again. We not only learn from our experience during it, but also grow as individuals. This journey made us realise how happy we are that none of our family members or acquaintances have cancer. Life becomes much more important when you cease to perceive it as a given It was very interesting to meet all the people and the meetings with children were especially jolly. I am very happy that I haven’t missed such a chance! I would like to thank everyone with whom I had the pleasure to get acquainted. Elf Mimmi (15 years old)

It was very good to see how happy the children and teenagers with cancer had become when we visited them, sang to them and presented them with the gifts, but at the same time I was sad because I so much wanted to be able to help them more. This journey taught me that, when some of us in Sweden get angry with our parents because we don’t get some game or toy we desire, at the same time other children are fighting against cancer to save their lives. Elf Filip

The visit of the elves cheered us up and left good memories. I was surprised at how warm and cheerful their interaction with my family was. The thing I liked most was when the Swedish elf taught me and Emilija how to perform tricks – we will be able to use them in real life. We are looking forward to their visit next year. Emilija’s sister Julija

This year I had the chance to meet the Swedish elves for the first time, to learn some more about their Christmas traditions and traditions they celebrate before Christmas. I’ve heard really beautiful Swedish songs. The gnomes were immensely cheerful, we could have a laugh together and there was no time for feeling sad. I just wanted to share joy, laughter and smiles with them same as they shared all of this with us. Laura

My name is Domas. We had a miracle at our house in the evening: we had a visit from Santa Claus’s wife and elves and that was a huge surprise for me. At first I got scared, because my parents didn’t warn me, that we would have magic quests visiting us, but after some time the fright just went away. I really liked the Santa Claus wife’s circus show and now I try to perform juggle tricks myself but for now I manage to juggle only two “flashing hedgehogs”, which I got as a gift from Santa Claus’s wife. I also enjoyed the song about a frog very much. I really liked the presents, because I love to draw. I am very happy that so many guests visited us, because I rarely have guests. Domas Huge THANKS to Edita and her team for wonderful holiday festivities for our child. Good and happy holidays to you all! Domas’ parents

When still a couple of days were left until the elf visit Ditas sadly said that the children at the kindergarden didn’t believe that real elves will come to visit him. I didn’t know what to reply to this... I said that it is very to hard to believe in a miracle which was only going to happen yet, but we had to prepare our hearts for that. So we started preparing :) After some pleasant concerns and anxieties THAT morning finally dawned. Ditas barely managing to open his eyes first asked if today was the day. YES! YES! YES! At the approach of THAT hour the tension continued to grow. Ditas repeated his poem, rehearsed the dance and didn’t cease asking if it was to happen soon. I thought that the kid would “burn out”, so we turned on the Christmas music, embraced and quietly thought about nice things. While we thus meditated, as Ditas calls it, the phone began to ring and then the frenzy began. :D Ditas ran to the door, then to the Christmas tree to check if the postcards were still there, perhaps five times informed his grandmother who was in the kitchen that ALREADY ALREADY ALREADY! And the elves came.

The hour went by very fast. It was a cosy, warm and lovely hour.

Some Ditas’ thoughts when remembering the visit: ”I was so excited when the elves started climbing the stairs, my heart was beating so fast that I was able to hear it right here (he put his hand on his heart).“

“So many Elves came for a visit. And Santa Claus’s wife probably waved to Vilius, who was looking through the window, but he wasn’t very good, he hit me in the yard in summer, that is probably why she came to visit me, not him.“

“I really liked the elf who sat separately on the armchair (his name is probably Filip?), his face was so serious and composed.“

I liked it very much when Santa Claus’s wife was throwing those glowing “Martians” in the air. I so dreamt of having them, but you always failed to buy them for me. And now I have been given them as a gift. Yes, I did wish to have them, you know. And when she threw the kerchiefs in the air… I will also try this out… (he tries to throw the “Marsians” in the air but doesn’t manage it very well – but he doesn’t give up and continues throwing then in the air. And he doesn’t despair – decides to learn that later on).“

“I liked the song about frogs without ears and then it was very funny when one guy jumped after we danced the frog dance. (He laughs and starts jumping like a frog and tells me and his grandmother to jump, so we all jump :) I liked it when they danced my dance and when I was the Christmas tree in the middle of everybody.)“

“It was fun to go fishing with the elves. I caught a lot of fish.“

“And who are those boys, who have given me the presents? He takes the postcards with the photos of the children who prepared the gifts.)“

“I really like that [toy] which makes dreams come true, which Edita gave to me as a present (he takes the Daruma doll and looks at it intently. He presses the doll between his palms, scratches one doll’s eye). When I think of a very big dream... Mom, and what can big dreams be? I… I… you know, I would like to be a Santa Claus. (… but he hasn’t yet painted the eye).“

“Let’s go and do the frog dance!“

“I need to go brush my teeth, because the Santa Claus’ wife gave me toothpaste and a toothbrush as a gift. I dreamt of the one with the Spiderman, like this one. Brumm... and I fly like him to brush my t-e-e-e-e-e-e-th! (It is a true miracle, because Ditas haven’t missed one day to do that and he doesn’t need any bidding any more, as it was before! :D)“

“Did the elves visit other children? Will they come next year too?“

“We can also make or buy a present and give it to a child who doesn’t have money. (He said so while looking through postcards with the photos of the children who prepared the gifts.)“

Our home became empty, but glorious mood and goodness in our heart stayed. The grandmother asked Ditas: “Well, how did you like it?” He stood up from his toys and said: “Snowmen’s heads are sitting firmly, noses sticking from the snow, today I am in a great mood, my heart is overflowing with joy“. The poem was so to the point that we couldn’t stop laughing. We talked about the elves until the night came and reminisced about them again and again, we danced, played and enjoyed the dainties. :)

TACK! TACK! TACK! We thank everyone and everybody and give you all a big hug! HAVE A JOLLY HOLIDAY! Ditas (impressions written down by Ditas’ mom).

We send our thanks to our unsurpassable Swedish elves – Anita, Stefan, Filip, Mimmi, Olivia and Ieva –
for the wonderfully spent time and gifts.

We also send our thanks to the students of the Swedish schools who prepared presents for the Lithuanian children,
and are grateful to all by courtesy of whom one more magical journey of Swedish elves to Lithuania was realised.

We sincerely thank you for an unexpected and valuable gift brought to us by the elves –

the funds in the amount of 23 900 LTL collected for Rugutė— during the campaign in Sweden. We are genuinely grateful to all supporters whose generously contributed funds will be used for the purchase of the necessary drugs, medicines or support for the families.
We send our thanks to the staff of the Children’s

Oncohematology Center at the Children’s Hospital and Kauno Klinikos,
especially to the chief nursing administrator J. Arcišauskaitė for a pleasant reception.

We sincerely thank UAB „Apiterapijos centrui for especially fragrant and tasty honey tea.

We send our thanks to the hotel „Amberton“ for the care taken in accommodating our guests from Sweden.
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