Dasha Malyukova is the only hospital clown and child psychologist in Kyrgyzstan.
She and her three year old daughter Sophia live alone in the small house in the outskirts of Bishkek.
Dasha starts her day with cleaning her room in National Cancer Center so that to prevent the patients from catching infections.
Several times a month, she visits three local hospitals in which she performs her show for children. She notes that the number of cases of cancer in children has increased significantly after the 2010 revolution and the subsequent incidents in southern Kyrgyzstan.
Some children, especially from remote areas of the country, have never seen clowns before a meeting with Dasha and sometimes after the discharge they ask to leave them in the hospital for a few days more to meet with her again.
Dasha remembers all the children and watchs over their condition even during her performances. Due to the shortage of health workers in the country, such additional care becomes very important for patients and their parents.
A 6 year old Seryozha spent about 9 months in hospital, fighting with the leukemia. Taking care of such patients is the most noticeable part of Dasha’s work.
There is not enough space in the children’s ward of the hospital and because of it Seryozha’s mother Nastya and Dasha take care of him after the puncture procedure in the Dasha’s room.
Altynay, 19 year old, knew about complications of the leukemia after one year spent in the hospital. People in such situations often lose their hope and Dasha’s warmth only can bring them back strength and the hope for recovery.
While Dasha is looking for medicines for Altynay abroad, Nastya is doing her Halloween makeup.
For a few seconds, Altynay forgets about her disease.
First snow, which marked one year of Altynay’s staying in the hospital, not only allowed her to take a break from the usual environment for some time, but seemed even made her healthy.
As in many other closed communities, in the Cancer Center you can see things which is not always possible found in an ordinary life – a sincere desire to help and support each other. Here, as nowhere else, you may to know what should be the ideal human relationships.
Nastya and Seryozha were discharged from the hospital for an ambulant therapy in November 5, 2013. However within a few years they will have to visit regularly the hospital to control of the boy’s health.
During one of her visits Nastya wishes Altynay a Happy New Year. For a moment suddenly get the feeling that all this happen not in the hospital, and at home in a friendly atmosphere – the smiles around becomes so warm. And only masks on their faces are constantly reminded of reality.
Dasha also works as Animator in a children’s entertaining show which brings her basic income. The approaching New Year holidays means that soon the amount of work will greatly increase . While her daughter plays around, her friend is doing her the hairstyle for the next performance.
And for Sophia it is not only the most impressive holidays, but also the time when she will see her mother less than usual. In Dasha’s absence she forced to remain in the care of their neighbors.
Sometimes Dasha remains on duty near the children, which are in bad condition, to help to their parents and sometimes this support is the last thing that they can get in the hospital.
After a few strenuous work weeks in the run-up of New Year holidays in the hospital and in the show Dasha completely exhausted not only physically, but also psychologically, and is on the verge of a mental collapse.
January 10, 2014. This is the last photograph of Altynay.
Two weeks later, she and Nadia (right) died within one day due to the complications from the leukemia, sharing between themselves the only life-support system in the children’s ward of the Cancer Center.
This is hideously difficult to imagine what the doctors, parents and Dasha feel, being powerless to fight for the lives of patients without an appropriate medical equipment and medicines.
Altynay. This is one of her first shots. She goes from the ward to the hospital lobby to put some money on her cell phone bill in the payment terminal.
Everything that Dasha wants is to continue to help her patients. And for that she seeks a help for the children’s ward of the National Cancer Center.
And she also needs the support of her own activities as a child psychologist and hospital clown.