The campaign to raise funds to pay for the treatment of Bulgarian National Television (BNT) journalist Valya Krushkina’s malignant cancer has become in itself a media phenomenon.
It was her employer, the country’s public broadcaster, that first announced the campaign just a few weeks ago, appealing for donations by SMS and bank deposits to help out a journalist that, BNT reminded its viewers, was known for her passionate interviewing and in-depth reporting on the economy, energy and social issues.
Born in the village of Zheleznitsa near Sofia, Krushkina has been with BNT for about 20 years. She has won numerous awards, including for coverage of business and economic issues.
“She is a fighter who never gives up,” was the campaign message, urging people to assist her to return to health and their screens. “Help her to continue to seek the answers that you are interested in hearing.”
Bulgaria is hardly unaccustomed to public fund-raising campaigns. There are long-standing ones such as Булгарска Коледа (Bulgarian Christmas), under the patronage of the President, to raise funds for seriously ill children to receive medical treatment, often abroad.
There have been others, to help people at home and abroad – fromHaititoFukushimato residents of the BulgarianvillageofBisser, which was hard-hit by the January 2012 floods. Further back, there was the “You are not alone” campaign of solidarity for the Bulgarian medics caught up in the potentially fatal farce that was their long-running trial inLibya.
All of these campaigns, however, have had in common that there was generally just one major media outlet, sometimes accompanied by a few others, running the campaign and these efforts were ignored by the others.
Krushkina’s plight, which according to the most recent reports has seen her undergoing examination with a view to possible treatment at the Johns Hopkins hospital in Istanbul (a nearer and more affordable option than its world-famous US parent, as one report pointed out), has brought together the Bulgarian-language media in a way that goes beyond being extremely rare to being unprecedented.
An internet search on her name (Валя Крушкина) turns up matches across the spectrum of the Bulgarian media, from the most influential to the most obscure, from the relatively responsible to the somewhat outlandish.
Among those who have publicly joined in the campaign are the country’s two other major free-to-air channels, bTV and Nova Televisia. Normally, the big three of Bulgarian television ignore each other’s existence and efforts – but in the case of Krushkina, the attitude has been for the country’s journalists to look after one of their own.
By no means only journalists are drumming up support for Krushkina. A charity concert has been held, as has a charity football match and, at theMathematicsSchoolinYambol, a charity mathematics competition, with more than 400 participants, all proceeds to Krushkina.
At a May 13 training workshop held by the chamber of notaries, 1450 leva (about 725 euro) was raised in a whip-round.
Probably predictably, the campaign has not escaped some critical voices. Scrolling down the comments forums of some Bulgarian-language news websites, one finds acerbic remarks from readers querying why journalists have been so keen to trumpet for help for one of their own and – allegedly – neglect the plight of many others in need of treatment for serious illnesses.
It is hardly the first time that this point has been made inBulgaria. In its failed 2011 presidential campaign, the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party harped on what it called the “shame” of money having to be raised through SMSes to treat ill children – conveniently ignoring the fact that a President elected from its ranks had been patron of the Bulgarian Christmas campaign since 2002 and would be so again, for the last time, at the end of that year.
Probably, the question – as one forum commenter put it – “why does she deserve to be helped and others do not?” will come up again in other campaigns. As like as not, the response may also be on the theme of shame, on those who have the chance to help, and choose not to. “My wife, my daughter and I all have sent SMSes, and will do so again,” was one forum response, not atypical.
For the record, for those who would like to help, the details are:
- Send an SMS to any ofBulgaria’s mobile operators, to the number 17 777 with the text “DMS VALYA”. The charge is 1.20 leva.
- For bank deposits – to the ProCredit BankBulgariaaccounts
IBAN: BG12PRCB92301040660216 (deposits in leva)
IBAN: BG59PRCB92301440660210 (deposits in euro).
Payable to Valentina Asenova Krushkina.