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Ewa and Elwira Liegman – eMOCja

Founder and president of Sunreef Yachts shipyard, Mr. Francis Lapp with the Sunreef Yachts Team has been supporting the Holistic hospice and care centre eMOCja for a year now. eMOCja is an exceptional initiative that provides comprehensive care for people at the most difficult time in life: after the loss of a loved one or finding out about an incurable disease. Ewa Liegman, president of the Hospicjum Pomorze Dzieciom and the Holistic hospice and care centre eMOCja, talks about working at the hospice, changing perspectives, and what terminally ill children can teach us.

What inspired your team to create eMOCja?

Ewa Liegman, Francis Lapp and Elwira Liegman

Ewa Liegman: The Hospice team has a difficult story behind it. It’s like sailing constantly against the wind, without a sail, when a storm is raging. It all started with doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, whose many years of experience in working with ill children showed that the role of doctors does not end when the final diagnosis is made. What is more, accompanying a child in its last moments is a great challenge for the healthcare in the 21st century. Without public support, we have fought for three years for survival, a dignified life and a dignified death of terminally ill children. Journalists helped in the struggle. Reportages were created about unusual stories of children who teach us how to survive death. Our hospice began to be associated with a place where difficult subjects are tackled, where one can find professional help in the most difficult moment of life.  More and more often people started to come forward, losing loved ones in various circumstances, emergencies, orphaned children, couples losing a baby, families struggling with suicide and as a result of many really difficult, often sudden events, requiring comprehensive and quick support. So we asked ourselves, is there anything we can do for people struggling with grief and incurable illness from outside the families under our hospice care? This is how eMOCja started to be born…so that NOBODY in the face of death and illness would not be left alone.

Could you describe the path that led your project to transpire?  How did you look for sponsors and donors?

E.L.: It was the road to total darkness and the unknown. Our budget was exactly 0 PLN. At each stage of the project we used the lessons we learned from the children of the Hospice, who show us incredible courage in their daily struggles. Looking straight into the eyes of fears, but always with faith and with an even greater dose of hope. It was hard for me to believe, when I started working at the Hospice, that in a place on the thin line of life and passing, one does not stop talking about hope. It is the children who teach us courage and the principle that “constant dropping wears away a stone.”  A small step, but always moving forward. And this is a story that still touches me. The Hospice team: the guardians of quality of life watch at all times of day and night, they are often witnesses to the death of babies, breaking all the hearts around them, with an indelible reminder that we are all in the same situation. We do not know what will happen tomorrow. That is why it is probably easier for us to answer the question: is it worth trying? Yes, it is worth trying to create a place: eMOCja – a tribute to the lives of anonymous heroes who, in the silence of their homes, fading away, taught love, passing away. So with a question: do you believe that it makes sense? We started knocking from door to door. And finally… a day that has become part of our history, like a great celebration: a meeting with Mr. Francis Lapp and the Sunreef Yachts team. Then, on our stormy sea and dark sky, the first rays of sunlight began to come out.

Who makes up eMOCja?

E.L.: A team of experienced people working with death, mourning, and incurable diseases. A team for which the other person is the most important, unique and therefore requiring very individual support. A team of guides helping to climb a very steep mountain, because this is the journey through illness and mourning, because this is the preparation for death. And at the same time a team full of openness, serenity, attention, smile. Psychologists, clergymen, specialists in arthritis and body work. The heart of eMOCJA is formed by a medical team taking care of small patients of the home hospice Hospicjum Pomorze Dzieciom, as well as pregnant couples in the perinatal hospice “Tulipani”, where we prepare for the great challenges of parenthood, which lasts for a very short time and leaves a very deep mark for life. There is also a small administrative team, for me special agents, who try every day to provide space to help in such difficult life circumstances, often without money to start.

Mr. Francis Lapp and Sunreef Yachts Team was happy to join the fundraising campaign to renovate the eMOCja headquarters. How did the cooperation with the shipyard look from your perspective?

E.L.: In our wildest dreams, we never dreamt that such an amazing, powerful company would want to support the eMOCja project. Tears of emotion intertwined with jumps of joy to the ceiling. Really! Till now we wipe our eyes with amazement. Impressive professionalism and empathy. Unprecedented understanding of the needs of the hospice idea. Mr. Francis Lapp and the Sunreef Yachts team has taken under its wing the Hospice, the team, people struggling with mourning. So many broken hearts, which, thanks to you, are starting to beat a new rhythm here. You have made your mark on the history of the Hospice as the great creators of eMOCja.

There are different benefactors that are coming to you – is there any common denominator that connects them all?

E.L.: Certainly sensitivity to others. Awareness, maturity, the ability to look further, beyond the horizon. By supporting eMOCIA, it turns out that donors are changing the world.

Now that the eMOCJA Center has officially opened, what does a typical day for your team look like?

E.L.: Every morning there is a medical briefing. The team that was on duty at night passes on information about each patient to their replacements. Later on, staff travels to the kids for scheduled and interventional visits. Consultations for people in mourning are held at our headquarters, therapy rooms, a special room for working with children in mourning, with pregnant couples waiting for an ill child, sometimes taking new patients under their wings. In the large room of the support group are held thematic workshops, meetings with inspiring speakers activating around the hospice idea for all those interested in this topic. The place associated with death is vibrant with life.

Hospice is an institution that has been present in the collective consciousness as a place filled with sadness. Is there also room for positive emotions in them?

E.L.: Hospice paradoxically teaches serenity and hopefulness. At the entrance a smiling Angel greets all those who come in. A beautiful sculpture was given by the father of teenage Martyna, who died under the wheels of a car. Martyna is the patron of eMOCja and the Angel has her cheerful face. Here we follow stories that teach us to wake up to the fullness of life. So a joy that is not artificial, but you see it in your eyes. The Hospice surprises us with the authenticity of the experience. As if all the masks were falling. The whole palette of colors, emotions, which only in the set allow to go further with power. Hence the name of this place: eMOCja [emotion]. Children of the Hospice do not lack the serenity, despite adversities, sufferings and problems. Today I know that this is the fullness of humanity. It is in Hospice that I learn how to be a happy person and share happiness with others.

What kind of diseases do children come to you with?

E.L.: Various diseases leading to premature death. Genetic, neurological, metabolic, oncological, cardiological diseases. Often many complex defects and diseases. Some of the children are just a few minutes in the world, the oldest over 20 years old. That’s why I really bow down to the hospice team. It is a staff of exceptional people, very qualified in this narrow field of medicine, with many years of experience and with a heart in their hands.

How does working with people in mourning look like?

E.L.: After the loss of someone close to us, some part of us also dies. Then we need a lot of support – psychological consultations, therapy, meetings with people sharing similar experiences, but also activities that simply help to break away from suffering for a while to pass through it more easily. 

Everyone experiences such a situation differently. Usually regret, sadness, apathy, anger, feeling of loneliness, physiological symptoms, emotional and mental suffering appear. If you run away from these emotions, grief can turn into depression.

In the Center of support after the loss we help to take all the emotions and to return as smoothly as possible, to rebuild your identity.

More information about current events, forms of help, individual consultations, support groups, and workshops at www.centrumemocja.pl.

What is most difficult when working with the terminally ill?

E.L.: The assumption that every day will be very difficult, with new challenges, difficulties that are unpredictable. The fact that we have to raise about 70 000 PLN from donations every month to function at all doesn’t help. Constant wandering from door to door. Definitely, it is a great challenge, that is why teamwork is so important at the Hospice.

How has working at the hospice changed your approach to death?

E.L.: Working at the Hospice has not only changed and continues to change my approach to death, but above it changed my approach to life. This is surprising, but death is the best teacher of life for me. I am constantly moved by the fact that we are taught here by children… Although for years we have been trying to make sure that they don’t miss anything, literally… to make heaven right for them, they still give us much more. Every grey day starts in the morning. I do not want to get up, but I remember Milena, Daniel, Wiktor… who never got up and will never get out of bed. Behind them probably the night of struggle, but they will smile during the day, and I? Without humor, often just for no reason. Every day at the Hospice is like a cold shower, which helps to wake up to full life. Less complaining, more noticeable, enjoy small things, thanking more often, apologize faster and be generous… very…. especially in professing love. This is what the hospice teaches me. To say “I love” because I know that tomorrow I may not have this chance. 

Hospice is a special place, and even more so a children’s hospice. Why did you decide to devote your life to helping terminally ill children? What drives you to act?

E.L.: I came to the Hospice “by accident”. Full of weaknesses, defects, fear of death. With the impression that every day I face an impassable mountain. Daily struggle with helplessness, financial problems can knock you into the ground. And then… the story of Zosia, Zuzia… whose whole life has closed in one day, several minutes. What’s the secret? Seeing life from its end is an incredible shock, but also a great luck. Because suddenly most things seem clear and simple. I know what is important to me. And I feel obliged to do everything I can to let every person live… Everyone. Although it would only take a few seconds. Why? Because every day I find out that “The fluttering of a butterfly’s wings in one end of the universe can cause a hurricane in the other”. Somebody fade out with last breath. Hospice teaches me humility. And this is a great treasure. And that’s what I wish for all the wonderful Sunreef Yachts team and all the readers!

How can our readers help eMOCja?

E.L.: Every month, it is mainly supported by donations. Thank you in advance on behalf of the Children and the Team for every donation!

Hospicjum Pomorze Dzieciom

Ugory 9 Street, 80-663 Gdansk

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