The story behind Diema’s Dream
In 1994, when I began working at Baby House #17 with the IWC, there was this cute little boy named Diema. He had a large head because of hydrocephalous and was paralyzed from the waist down. He was three years old and had never eaten solid food. He fed himself three meals from a bottle. He couldn’t speak because his muscles had not developed. A feeding program of solid food started and before long. Diema was speaking his first word “ball”.
When Diema turned five, he was transferred from the baby house to an orphanage where there were over 800 adults and children. There was one worker for every 30 children and only one nurse the whole facility. Conditions were very poor. I could not get into the orphanage to see Diema as these facilities were closed to the public.
Almost one year later, I heard that our children from Baby House #17 had been transferred to another facility. I received permission from the director to see Diema. The children were in very poor shape, without any clothing or diapers and no toys, yet the facility was reasonably clean. There I met a volunteer, Leonid Mogilevsky, who was working to improve the conditions for these children. I immediately knew I wanted to help him make life better for these children.
In 1997, I returned to the United States. In 1998, with the help of my sister, our foundation became a reality in an effort to support Leonid’s work the children. Diema’s Dream was created so every disabled child could have a dream for a better life.
As I grew to understand how dire the situation is for these children, we knew more had to be done. Every year, Diema’s Dream has been able to take more on and do more for a greater number of children.