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Business on generousity in Zaporozhye — a small experiment by Subbota Plus newspaper

January 17, 2012, 13:00 2598 Author: Olga Prikhodko, Viktoria Butko, Yana Milanova, translated by Yevheniya Devyatkova subbota.com.ua Common people often respond to charity pleas. But they don’t know where their donated money really goes

“Maria, 9 years, leukosis. Money is needed to pay for treatment, or the child might die”. Thousands of such pleas for help can be found in our city alone. Most people usually donate several hryvnas into a charity collection box and forget about the whole thing. But what if you decide to donate a larger amount of money — can you be sure that the money will be used for the purpose intended?

Officials do not like pleaders

Katya Petrova, a 20-year-old girl from Zaporozhye, has for almost two years been fighting a terrible disease — idiopathic aplastic anemia. The diagnosis means that her medulla cells are incarcerated, and at some point the medulla itself has partially stopped functioning. Now the girl has to take immunosuppressors all the time.

“Five gelcaps of ciclosporinum cost 1,200 hryvnas ($150), - tells us Natalya Borisovna, Katya's mother. - When the disease just started, we needed one box of it per week.

Besides, Katya had an urgent need of expensive treatment, one course of which costs 15,000 hryvnas (almost $2,000). Katya had to undergo 3 courses. And as this misfortune was not expected, the family did not have the money.

The first institution Katya's parents went for help was the Executive committee of Zaporozhye City Council. But the officials spent a month just forwarding their letter to different structural subdivisions. And when the plea together with the doctors' verification finally reached the City department for labour and social security, they simply refused to help the family.

“My husband and I together earn about 4 thousand hryvnas ($500) a month. There are four people in our family: me, him and two our children, - Natalya Borisovna says. - The inspector from that department came to us, and his inspection has shown that our life's not bad at all! Even though our tiny low-ceilinged apartment is in constant need of renovation because of the leaking roof".

The only option was to ask our colleagues and charity foundations for help. Only then the family raised the money needed for their daughter's essential treatment.

It turns out that the last chance for many of the severely ill people is the support of caring people and charity foundations. By the way, there are 500 charity foundations registered in Zaporozhye region. Albert Pavlov, the head of “Happy Child” charity foundation, told us that every year more than 50 families ask for their help in raising money for their child's treatment.

“We try to help each and every one of them, at least partially, - tells us Mr. Pavlov. - If a small sum is needed, we give the money from our surplus fund. But often the price of treatment is 100-300 thousand hryvnas ($12,500 - $37,500). In such cases we place a plea for help on our website and wait for donations".

Wailsome business

Charity foundations employees tell us that common people respond to the pleas for help eagerly. Some time ago Albert Pavlov conducted an experiment — took a charity collection box and went through two tower-blocks, ringing at every door. People responded to the plea: from every 15-20 apartments he collected at average 150-200 hryvnas ($18-24).

At the same time those in power are less charitable than common workers and retirees. For example, several years ago volunteers of “Happy Child” foundation arranged a fund-raiser for a critically ill child for the members of the Regional Council. The money box directly at the debating chamber entrance. And as a result hundred officials raised only... 700 hryvnas ($86).

The fact that people in our city are so ready to help an ill child has both advantages and disadvantages. On one hand there is real help for those in need, on the other — a good opportunity for swindlers to benefit from this generosity.

Today charity collection boxes can be seen in almost any local shop, drugstore or supermarket. But do many of us, when putting our money in them, at least try to figure out whether the money will be used accordingly?

- Different organizations often ask for our permission to collect money for charity on our behalf. But we never see the raised funds, - tells us Halina Galkina, the head of the regional baby house “Solnyshko”. - No more than one organization out of ten really bring us the money.

The Subbota Plus correspondents saw for themselves that our fellow citizens donate money into charity boxes without any misgivings. We found a box for collecting money and spent 20 minutes decorating it with the photos of children, taken from the Internet. The sticker on the box had the name of a non-existing charity fund and the correspondent's phone numbers printed on it. This “box of compassion” was placed in a cafe in the center of the city. And when in a few days we came to collect the box, there was money in it. Not much. Mostly coins, but also some bills were there. Nevertheless, during those few days nobody has called and checked whether the foundation really existed and, all the more important, where will the money go?

Where does the money go?

The control of the money given for charity is a complicated issue. Many parents of the ill children write pleas for help and enclose the number of the bank account.

- There are children whom very few people donate money, and there are children whom everybody wants to help — tells us Albert Pavlov. - For example there was a case when a child needed 1,000 hryvnas ($123), and people donated 10,000 hryvnas ($1,239). It is naive to think that the parents will refuse extra money and give the sum back.

Often the financial aid comes too late. In this case the money ends up in the pockets of healthy adults. Several years ago in Zaporozhye there was a case when a child who was being paternalized by one of the charity foundation, died. At that moment there were about 400, 000 hryvnas ($50 000) on his parents' accounts. Despite the fact that the money could not help any more, the family refused to give the donated money back for a long time.

- Even the attorneys couldn't have done anything in that case — tells us the head of the charity foundation, - for this money was voluntary donations. We managed to receive back most of the money and give them to another ill child only after threatening the parents with going public with the story.

The employees of the charity foundations and orphanages tell: if you want to make sure your donation is being used properly, you should bring the money yourself or transfer it to the bank account of the charity foundation. In this case you will be able to receive a report on its usage.

According to Halina Galkina, when a person gives monetary aid to their orphanage, he receives not only a check, but also the money capitalization act. The documents bear the signature of the inventory custodian. Besides, one can always come and see for oneself. In a month, two months, a year...

P.S.: During the small experiment Subbota Plus has in three days raised 27,85 hryvnas ($3,35). Not much. But still this proves that our fellow people are capable of helping. To this sum we added 500 hryvnas ($61) from our office. The money was given to Happy Child charity foundation. We hope that the money of caring people will help a child in need.

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