Just before International Women’s Day, Valentina Matvienko, Chairperson of the Federation Council, had a meeting with women leaders of volunteer projects. The meeting included awarding of the winners of the first phase of the Volunteer Marathon of the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum in five categories. 

Sofia Lagutinskaya with her ‘I Believe in a Miracle’ project was one of the winners. According to the project’s leader, her volunteer organisation is the largest one in the Kaliningrad region. It carries out activities in the fields of rehabilitation and support of children recovering from oncological diseases, helping their families, and palliative care. 


Since 2015, a charitable mobile hospice-palliative service called Fruppolo House is in operation within the framework of the ‘I Believe in a Miracle’ centre. Today it supports 48 children with worsening serious diseases. According to Sofia Lagutinskaya, a new hospice project for children is in active development now. It will let more children with incurable diseases live more comfortably. The project will also help volunteers feel useful to society. 

Natalia Yakunina discussed the ‘Island of Dreams’ project she leads in Primorsky Krai. The territory of Primorsky Krai comprises about 60 islands. In addition, 3 largest islands among them are located at the territory of Vladivostok, the biggest city of the region. Their picturesque nature attracts many tourists, but the region has a large problem with landfills. After being a volunteer in many ecological projects, Natalia Yakunina decided to start the ‘Island of Dreams’ project aimed at elimination of the pollution in Primorsky Krai. 


Over 4 years of its operation, there were 15 major environmental actions with more than 700 volunteers. Thanks to the project, about 7.5 thousand sorted garbage bags were taken from the islands, 20 landfills were eliminated. In addition, volunteers organise events and actions to improve the level of environmental awareness of locals and tourists. Natalia Yakunina believes that eliminating pollution is only possible through joint efforts of people. 

Valentina Kolodkina’s ‘All-Russian Rescue Students' Corps’ project is aimed at emergency training of volunteers. According to her, it is important for any volunteer to be able to quickly take right decisions, especially when it concerns saving people's lives. First aid knowledge and psychosocial support may prove useful in any sphere. The ‘All-Russian Rescue Students' Corps’ project provides its volunteers with such skills and knowledge. In addition, professionals in different fields, including health workers, firefighters, and rescuers, share their experience with the volunteers.


The project is now being successfully implemented in Krasnodar Krai. Valentina Kolodkina believes it is important to organise such rescue corps in all regions of Russia. Volunteers of this project take part in mitigation of natural and human impact and help in organising events throughout the territory of the Russian Federation. According to Valentina Kolodkina, the main task of the project is bringing up volunteers who value human life. 


Lubov Shabanova, the author of ‘Social Tourism’, ‘Safety School for the Elderly and the Disabled’, and ‘The Third Age – Time to Spread Wings’ projects also became the winner in the first phase of the Volunteer Marathon. According to her, pensioners make up a third of the population of the Voronezh region. As we know, pensioners often suffer from loneliness. The projects led by Lubov Shabanova provide representatives of the older generation with opportunity to be actively take part in educational and cultural events as well as support and assist one another. In her speech, Lubov Shabanova paid special attention to social tourism. According to her, over 1,000 veterans have already received the opportunity to visit historic and sacred sites alongside with sites of military glory in Voronezh and the Voronezh region. 


Olga Zubkova shared about her project called ‘Lamp’. This is an international film festival annually held in Perm. The film festival presents socially-oriented short films, video clips, and advertising. The ‘Lamp’ film festival is the only event positioning volunteering and charity through cinema. According to Olga Zubkova, over the 4 years of the project’s operation the jury estimated more than 1700 works from 33 regions of Russia and 68 countries. In 2016, the film festival was presented at the UN venue in Geneva. 


The characters of all films and video clips of the festival are characters of a completely new type. They are volunteers who criticize and ask for nothing. They just see the problem and propose the ways to address it. At the end of her speech, Olga Zubkova invited all leaders of volunteer movements to shoot films about their activities. In her opinion, by their example they can inspire good deeds by people around. 


The Federation Council awarded the five winners of the first phase of the Volunteer Marathon with diplomas. Thanks to these diplomas, they will be able to take part in the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum. The final phase of the Volunteer Marathon takes place in May 2018. 


Viktoria Yezhova, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community

Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov