"Children cannot be fooled," says pediatric oncologist Julka Horáková.

29. 01. 2016

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„When I saw MAGNA team working in the field, I knew it was right. Since the beginning I wanted to affiliate my name with MAGNA humanitarian organization.”

MUDr. Julka Horáková, PhD., meets children and their parents daily at the pediatric oncology clinic in Bratislava. Julka is Chief Physician of bone marrow transplantation unit at children´s hospital in Bratislava. She is an active medical counselor for MAGNA projects. Julka took part in establishment of children´s clinic for children affected by HIV/AIDS epidemic in Cambodia. We are very proud of her – Julka was awarded a Cross of Pribina by Slovak president Andrej Kiska in january.

How did you meet MAGNA for the first time?

I was attending an intensive English course, where I met Martin. He was talking about mission in Cambodia. We discussed topics related to my profession of pediatrician and possible assistance in the project. In the end I took three weeks off and spent the time with Martin, Denisa and MAGNA team in Cambodia.

What was happening during the mission in Cambodia in 2004?

At that time there was running an educational project, ambulatory care for children with proved HIV positivity rate and orphanage for HIV positive children.  We were going around the slums and set up ambulant stationaries. I have motivated many colleague doctors and nurses for active help in Cambodia and Africa. During my second visit we managed to found children´s clinic as a part of national hospital. We arranged the furnishing of the clinic, intensive care department and hiring of nurses and doctors from Cambodia. Step by step the medical aid enlarged to nutritional and social support.   

Can you remember your first impressions in field in Cambodia? How was it?

As the saying goes, it´s better to see once than to hear hundred times. It was very hard to see people living on the edge of life and society. Even worse was to see children taking care of younger without parents… However I was not horrified. I took Cambodia as it was. It is a world that needs help. Not to re-educate, but to accept it. In the field, I saw the structure of how the international humanitarian organizations work and help. I was very happy that MAGNA has been well accepted among the international structures. MAGNA still represents our country very well.

How  do you perceive development work?

Person needs to have open heart and soul. It is inevitable, that development work comes from country´s culture. One needs to accept the local people as they are. Not to re-educate people according to our projection, but to show the way. It is important to train the locals, so the humanitarian aid may continue without external assistance.

Did your work change after you arrived to Slovakia?

Of course. The first half year I was taking a lot from this experience. I confirmed all of my life values that I believed in before. I saw a lot of poverty, humbleness and joy as well. According to Constitution each citizen of Slovakia has the right for medical care. In contrary, in Cambodia, if somebody is born on the edge of society, in dirt, poverty or slum, there is a little chance that he/she manages to get out from there without the help of outside.

How do you perceive the honour of Andrej Kiska?

I was surprised. I feel priviliged and I take it with respect and humbleness. It is an acknowledgment not only of myself, but of all the people around me. First of all it is an acknowledgement of our little patients and their brave parents. I see my daily reward elsewhere. In children and their honesty. Children cannot be fooled. You can tell from their actions if you won their respect or not.   

Would you like to go back to Cambodia?

Yes, my dream is to meet the children who have grown up in the meanwhile. I want to see how they are doing and if they accomplished to step into regular life. It is important to secure not only medical care, but a social support, so they can take care of themselves and of their lives.


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