A. Zhukov: “We are not magicians, but we are up to good”

A. Zhukov: “We are not magicians, but we are up to good”

A. Zhukov’s Charitable Foundation “Kindness” (“Dobrota”) was recognized by UN/ United Nations. Everybody considers himself a kind person, but what, though, is kindness itself? The Explanatory Dictionary of Russian Language (Ozhegov) gives the clear explanation to this notion: “it is sympathy, kind behavior towards somebody, desire to do somebody good”. Take a notice, there is no word about selfishness…

Today’s life is like riding a helter-skelter; we have no time to look around. Everybody is concentrated on their own hassles, so that many of us move from one point to another noticing nothing, but looking around is worth doing. There are many people in need who are on the sidelines and it’s extremely hard for them to find their path. They are both poor elderly citizens and children deprived of parental care. And have you ever thought how many families take care of their children with special health needs who live below poverty line?

In 2001, our countryman, A.A. Zhukov founded Charitable Foundation “Kindness” (“Dobrota”). Members of the Foundation, volunteers and A. Zhukov have been lending their helping hands to people who need it for 15 years.

They say those dreams come true who helps others. Nowadays A. Zhukov is a famous politician, businessman and patron of arts in Voronezh.

This year, the activities of the “Kindness” Foundation have received the international recognition.

From 30 June to 3 July in Geneva, the European headquarters of the United Nations held the traditional international conference “Volunteering – the technology of social transformation”. There were 70 participants from more than 20 countries. Alexander Alekseevich was among them.

Having returned from Switzerland, the head of the “Kindness” Foundation told us about his impressions.

– Alexander Alekseevich, why did your charity fund deserve the right to participate in such an event?

– The event is really significant. In all of fairness it has to be said that the fund “Kindness” is not a unique phenomenon. Fortunately, such organizations are around the whole world, and in order to become a participant of the conference, it was necessary to match the main criterion – to have concrete achievements in charity, as well as experience that can be shared with others. As a result, the organizers were satisfied by our work when they invited me to Geneva.

— What is the main purpose of this conference?

— The main purpose is to share experience of charitable internationally. More than that, to discuss such hot issues as increasing of contribution of young people to the development of public diplomacy, civic education and patriotic education, involvement in volunteer activities of various categories of citizens: pensioners, disabled people.

The representative of Nepal touched upon a very interesting topic: the participation of volunteers in cleanup operations of various disasters around the globe. We all remember the tremendous earthquake which has occurred recently in this country. He was very respectful to the participation of volunteers (including Russian) in the cleanup operations of this natural disaster.

With the development of the volunteer movement, it becomes necessary to be ready for such cataclysms. After all, a desire to help is not enough. It is essential to be skilled. Moreover, not always the local population adequately perceives interference in their problems. There are many reasons for this, but the main ones are cultural, religious and national differences. Volunteers should know what they can face with in the foreign country.

— What did you present at the conference?

— I had to present the results of the work of our fund. I was really nervous because the speech should be no more than 10 minutes. It is impossible to describe the 15 years’ work in 10 minutes so we decided to use the interactive presentation with snaps.

— What was the reaction of the audience?

— Soon after the presentation they started to ask for details and future plans.

—What impressed you most?

— Everything that was discussed is precious. I found attached to the work of Perm Fund. Grannies of the local nursery home knit socks and mittens for kids from the orphanage. Both kids and elderly people are left alone in this world but such actions are evidence that kindness still exists. They start to call each other and this helps them forget loneliness.

Such cooperation is a mixture of sharing experience of different generations that is extremely helpful for both kids and elderly people. I will certainly arrange such program in Voronezh.

— What significant projects had been done by “Kindness”?

— Every project is important and significant. We do our best to help those who are in need. We help and support nursery homes, boarding schools and orphanages and so on. We are not magicians, but we are up to good. We purchase clothes, shoes, food and a lot more.

— Do you adhere to any principles?

— The main principle is “to do the best than nothing”. It is also important to assist not only with money, but also to be emotionally close to those who are in trouble. I am the happiest person ever when I see smiling kids and elderlings. Many of them call me “Uncle Sasha” or even “Daddy”. That is priceless.

— What do you expect helping inmates of boarding schools and orphanages?

— The main idea is children’s socialization and preparation for adult life. It becomes difficult to carry out these ideas as children are out of the families. Moreover they all are unique. They have hard luck. But we don’t let them be alone and help to find their way in life. We create sport clubs and offer children to join them. We give them sportswear and shoes, hold sports event. As a result, they become the first in the competitions. Also we hold chess competitions in order to cherish the memory of Heroes of Russia. All these change their lives for the better, make them live a productive life and break their limits and stereotypes.

— What are your plans for future?

— We will go on our work. We are getting bigger every day. More and more people want to help us, so we have more opportunities to support more people not only in Voronezh but also in other regions.

Helping each other is vital and essential; we should be kind and tender-hearted. As the proverb says: “Merry an intelligent rather than beautiful”.