Saturday morning, several of the World Combat Games Ambassadors visited the Republican Clinical Hospital in St. Petersburg, where orphan children with HIV are treated. So did Aikido Ambassador Mitsuteru Ueshiba.
While the children are in treatment, the hospital staff also works to get them adopted by families and to help them adjust to normal life. When HIV was new, there was great fear of it and adoptions were few, but lately there has been a growing trend of the children being welcomed into families in spite of the disease. Also, with modern medicine, they can live normal healthy lives and have the same life expectancy as other children.
Still, the children need a lot of support, which they get at the Republican Clinical Hospital, funded by the city of St. Petersburg and private donors.
It was evident to all that the children, who are from ages two to the early teens, were delighted by the visit from the Combat Games Ambassadors. They showed a keen interest in the martial arts and some of the visiting Ambassadors were well known sports heroes of theirs.
Aikido Ambassador Mitsuteru Ueshiba held a short speech about aikido and its non-competitive nature. Also, a security guard who practices aikido gave them a demonstration.
In return, the children performed karaoke singing and played the drums.
The Ambassadors had gifts for the children – the mascot figures of the Combat Games. SportAccord President Marius Vizer invited them all to the Games.
It was a joyous and touching event. IAF General Secretary Kei Izawa, who accompanied the Aikido Ambassador on the visit, says:
“It was clear how happy the children were to see their sports heroes. Their eyes were shining, and it made me feel that there is so much more we can do.”
Text by Stefan Stenudd
Photo by Kei Izawa