Anton Morozov is 22 years old. He lives with his mother Olena, a music teacher, who single-handedly brings up and supports her son. The young man was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and muscle myopathy, but he never uses words like “disabled” and “limited abilities.”
Until the age of 13, he could move around by himself, he studied in one of the elite schools in Yalta, where his mom was working, but then the disease started progressing, and Olena Morozova was asked to withdraw her child from school. The boy had to switch to home schooling.
Anton’s writing activity started with a friendly argument with a classmate: they wanted to find out who was capable of writing a book and started working on their respective texts simultaneously. Soon the classmate gave up the idea, but Anton became extremely fascinated with it: at the age of 13 he created a fiction novel about the young Antony and Jate, who were asked by the 12 elements to save the Book of History from an evil wizard. This text contains a lot of air, space, and motion.
The boy was too shy to talk about his creation, but following a friend’s advice he decided to show it to his other friends, and soon a lot of teenagers enjoyed reading those manuscripts. They read, praised, and admired them, but it did not move any further than that, because publishing a book is a costly pleasure. Back then Anton did not know that in eight years he would be holding his own book with a title The Chosen Children.
Besides, the boy found himself in photography and shot video clips while being confined to a wheelchair. In 2012, Anton became the winner of the Yalta city contest “Social Lens.”
THE ART OF HELPING
Ukrainian philanthropist Ruslan Bakhtyiev received a chance to get acquainted with Anton’s creative work thanks to a journalist who told the young writer’s life story, showed his publication Thirst for Life in a magazine and shared the book’s text. The Day has already talked to Bakhtyiev once (see the article “Golden dream for abandoned children” by Iryna Bochar, issue No. 38, August 5, 2010), who was a curator in the Star Dream Foundation (one of the first projects in Ukraine devised to take care of orphans).
So Bakhtyiev went to the writer’s native city to meet him in person. “Anton is a very interesting guy with his own life priorities. It should be mentioned that his diagnosis, cerebral palsy and muscle myopathy, is a very complicated and painful process of drying of muscles, including the muscles of internal organs, that is why he cannot walk, it is hard for him to move around using crutches, he does not have the strength to spin the wheels of his chair, he cannot do without somebody else’s help. But despite everything, Anton told me straight away: ‘If you are going to publish this book, please do not pay too much attention to my peculiarities,’” Bakhtyiev says.
Bakhtyiev’s first degree is in philology, so at first he assessed the quality of the novel and its prospects in terms of publishing, and only then he went to Ivan Malkovych of the A-BA-BA-HA-LA-MA-HA Publishers. Children’s writer Tetiana Poliakova edited the text, a quality literary finishing was done, a bright cover was created, and the fiction novel was printed by the A-BA-BA-HA-LA-MA-HA Publishers at the end of January last year.
Then, after gaining support of those who took Anton’s fate close to heart, Bakhtyiev went to Yalta to organize the first solemn presentation of the book in the boy’s native city. “Dr. Bersenev’s International Charitable Foundation agreed to be a partner in this project and cover the expenses on the boy’s medical care. Our task is to use the donations for taking Anton to Kyiv, where he has to stay for about 7 to 10 days 4 times per year, and also fulfill his dream of visiting America,” Bakhtyiev says.
The book is being spread quite fast now: the initiative participants use all handy methods, from live communication and meetings to trips to social networks.
Presentations already took place in Chernivtsi, Kyiv, Sumy, Donetsk, and a number of Crimean cities. A trip to Odesa is planned. It should be mentioned that organizers themselves cover the traveling, living, and food expenditures. So far, more than 20,000 hryvnias have been raised.
Anton Morozov’s book sells not only in Ukraine, but in some Russian cities as well, for example, in Ekaterinburg. The approach to distributing the book is the following: if a person has financial means, they can make a charitable donation of 100 hryvnias and receive their copy. People with limited abilities, who come to the presentations, get the book for free.
THE EVOLUTION OF INITIATIVE
Now the project The Chosen Children is not only about presenting books of a talented young man who needs help, but it is also a practical formula of how a person with a grave diagnosis can realize their potential.
Bakhtyiev states that after he spoke in front of a group of boys and girls with disabilities last fall and gave each of them a copy of Anton Morozov’s book, a new interpretation of the initiative appeared: the necessity to make an entire new project out of presentations, which will be aimed at popularizing the culture of charity and include discussions about special children’s problems and stereotypes that create an abyss of misunderstanding among people.
“When we see a kid with Down syndrome in the street, we turn away not to offend the mom by staring. But very few tried to just smile at them, pay the mom a compliment, or just say hello. It is hard to imagine what a person feels when everyone in the street turns away from them. But not too many give much thought to it. So, a simple presentation of a boy’s book turned into real trainings in comprehending the problem of the myth about people with physical disabilities and those who do not have these peculiarities,” Bakhtyiev says.