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  • Artur Domanski/Matthew Palaczki

The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity

The second Sunday of January has become very special for the people of Poland. This is the day when the biggest non-governmental charity organisation – The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity (Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy) - operates.

The organisation was founded in 1993 by Jerzy Owsiak, Bohdan Maruszewski, Lidzia Niedźwiedzka-Owsiak and Piotr Burczyński. The organisation’s main aim at the beginning was "Protecting Health and Saving Children's Lives by Providing Medical Equipment to Public Hospitals

Since then there have been 24 Grand Finales in various cities across the whole of Poland, where free concerts and events have been held in order to raise as much money as possible for children and hospitals in Poland. Each of these events is remarkable because of thousands of volunteers of different ages attend. Each of them has a special closed box for charity money and dozens of stickers with the heart symbol of the Great Orchestras.

The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity is the most trustworthy organisation in Poland – according to polls, 87% of Polish people trust the Orchestra to make a difference.

Other than the Grande Finales, the Orchestra runs medical and educational programmes:

# Early diagnostic centres created all over Poland as part of the National Early Cancer Diagnostics in Children Programme focused on cancer prevention.

# The Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program

# The Retinopathy of Prematurity Prevention and Treatment Programme

# The Non-Invasive Breathing Support in Neonates Programme - “Infant Flow”

# The Programme for Personal Insulin Pump Treatment of Pregnant Diabetic Women

# The All-Polish Programme for Personal Insulin Pump Treatment of Diabetic Children

# The First Aid for Schools Educational Programme

Each year the Foundation chooses a medical area to raise money for. So far the organisation has focused on:

• Child heart surgery;

• Saving the child victims of accidents;

• Saving the lives of infants;

• Saving children with kidney problems;

• Saving children with birth defects;

• Modern diagnostic tools and treatment in neonatology and paediatrics and other aims;

• Paediatric wards equipment and providing decent medical care for seniors.

Informations from official webpage

During over 20 years of existence, The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity has achieved a lot. Here are the few of its most important achievements, according to the organisation itself:

"We have bought a total of 30 thousand modern medical devices. This means that statistically speaking every day 4 GOCC devices are delivered to a Polish hospital.

• 100% of Polish infants are tested for hearing defects. Every child born in Poland is tested thanks to our equipment and the programme we instituted!

• We have equipped 219 infant wards with 457 Infant Flow devices! It’s the best result in Europe!

• We have established 18 retinopathy treatment centres with the aim of saving infants' sight.

• We have provided 2978 personal insulin pumps. Thanks to our work, Poland is the first country in the world where insulin pumps have become popular in treating diabetes in children."

The Great Orchestra has managed to raise around $140 million in over 20 years. For more information, please take a look at their website:

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