In April it was exactly one year since I started working at the Belarusian Children’s Hospicе. Time has flashed by, as is its wont. I have to say that I have no regrets about my decision to come and work here. Although more than once during this year I have quailed at the goal set before me of finding full funding for the hospice from within Belarus, there have been just as many occasions when I have thought, yes, it is achievable.
The doubts usually seem to assail me at the end of the month when I am analysing what has been done and what is still to do. However, there is no question about it, the situation is improving - and this despite the world economic crisis, constantly rising prices, bills going up, fuel increases etc. To compare this year so far with last year since I joined, it turns out that giving from within Belarus has risen about 2.5 times and now represents 36% of the overall hospice budget for the year. During the rest of 2010 I plan to increase this further to 44% of budget and in 2011 I am aiming to achieve 50%. Of course we will do our best to do even better than these figures but I have set goals that are realistic and based on analysis.
I spent a good part of last month analysing income streams in 2008, 2009 and the first part of 2010. Based on this information we are now able to plan our budget with more accuracy and to restrict spending in certain areas. The next strategic task is to put in place a system for monitoring the quality of the services we provide and to develop ways of improving quality without increasing expenditure.
Rumours have been circulating for some time about a new law on the statute books that will allow the state to sponsor services offered by NGOs. If it is passed we have calculated that we could be in line for receiving approximately 20% of our income from the government.
Our biggest news this month is that we have at last received our new minibus which was personally presented by Herbert Stepic, CEO of Raiffeisen International, who was on a visit to Belarus.
Another bit of good news is the announcement that we have been awarded a USD 6,000 grant by the World Bank for our work with sick children’s brothers and sisters.
We are currently working on an application to UNICEF for our Respite Care programme based at the hospice and in other places around Belarus. I have my fingers firmly crossed. It could be a very significant project.
I would also like to tell you about an interesting event that we organised during the IIHF Hockey World Championship, from 7 to 23 May 2010 in Germany. We wanted to link sport and charity so we put the idea to a company called Sceptre International that for every goal scored by the Belarusian national team they should made a donation of 100,000 Belarusian roubles (£23). They agreed and, as a result, by the end of the tournament they had donated about £465. This figure could possibly grow as Sceptre International is now thinking about ways of enhancing it before they present it to us. As part of this event, Eduard Zankovets, the head trainer of the Belarusian national team, visited the hospice and pledged to support us in the future.
On 29 May we took the hospice children to a fairground called DreamLand to celebrate Children’s Day. Our volunteers put on a puppet show using puppets that the children had helped to make. It went very well and everybody, parents and children, enjoyed themselves. One of the highlights was when an Italian pâtissier working in Belarus dropped in. We were very touched when he explained that on his birthday, 10 May, he had asked friends and family not to bring presents for him personally, but to bring gifts for the hospice children. He arrived with games, toys and lots of new clothes. How lovely it would be if more people would do the same!