This is an exciting and significant time at the Belarusian Children’s Hospice (BCH).
The plans to construct a new, modern and purpose-built Hospice are not only going ahead but are demanding more and more time and effort. A fundraising target of USD 4million is no mean goal! As they say in Russian, it doesn’t bear thinking about what you have set yourself to achieve.
BCH launched our nationwide fundraising campaign on 17th April 2012 by publishing our new website www.newHospice.by, broadcasting our specially made short TV advert and an audio version for FM radio and putting up enormous 6 x 3 metre billboards in Minsk. We have already managed to raise USD 30,000. The Belarusian Ministry of Health has been very helpful and has sent an appeal to other Ministries for funds to help construct and equip the new Hospice building. I have to confess that this campaign is too much for one person, particularly as the day-to-day fundraising for the ever expanding workload of BCH must not suffer. Funding for the normal day to day running of the Hospice has to remain my number one priority. That is why we have decided to employ another fundraiser who will be responsible for co-ordinating and developing the fundraising campaign for the new building. It was not easy to find the right person. Very luckily, I know people in the White Crow advertising agency and they said they would be interested in designing and running all aspects of our publicity campaign. Moreover they have promised to find a sponsor to cover their expenses so that it won’t cost the Hospice anything.
Some other positive news is that, since the devaluation of the Belarusian rouble in November 2011, the economic situation in Belarus has been a bit more stable. The inflation rate forecast for 2012 is about 22% (that’s 6 times lower than last year) and this means that more companies are able to think about making charitable donations.
This year promises to be very full. In addition to everything else that I have already written about, we are preparing for a huge increase in manpower as new grants come on stream. We have already received the grant awarded by UNICEF for our project called ‘Developing a model of social services to families in Belarus with chronically ill and disabled children’ and are expecting more funds from them in the near future in connection with the programme ‘Developing palliative care in Belarus’. We are also expecting funding for a European Community project aimed at specialist training for those working in children’s palliative care. These are very important developments but in order to carry them out we must take on more staff and thus the workforce at the Hospice expands.
Today is Friday and although in the normal run of things Saturday is a day off, tomorrow is an exception because we have organised a day of free labour, called a ‘subbotnik’ in Russian. We will be joined by one of our sponsoring companies, EPAM Systems. This is a Belarusian company known throughout the world for its IT services and was recently quoted on the New York Stock Exchange. They became a major sponsor of the Hospice last year and tomorrow we will show them our summer holiday site so that they can see for themselves what a fantastic placed this is for children to stay for a holiday. We are planning to devote our day to spring cleaning the summer houses and the site itself ready for the opening of the summer season on 15th June. Overall, I have noticed that IT companies seem most prepared to help with charitable projects. I wonder if this is because they are more closely integrated into the international business community and have embraced the culture of philanthropy they have seen in other countries. Only recently, another Belarusian IT company that wishes to remain anonymous made a very generous donation and promised to continue supporting us in the future.
BCH has come a very long way since it was started in 1994 and it is now the leader in children’s palliative care in the whole of the former Soviet countries and Eastern Europe. You will see from what I have told you that BCH has embarked on the next significant steps in its development. It is thanks to our joint efforts that the Hospice is now streaming ahead! Thank you very much to everyone who has and who is supporting us and to all those who will be supporting us tomorrow. Your generosity is hugely appreciated!