Should we be involved with charities from childhood?
At first glance those who are the objects of help from the charity Lifeline are not in a position to help others; but that is not actually the case. They do in fact get involved in charitable endeavour, said the chief executive of the charity Varvara Nekrasova during a meeting of a round table on the subject of reviving a tradition of children helping with charitable work.
Auctions of children’s drawings make money for charities. The last two held by Lifeline raised $14,000 and 1.5 million roubles. Wards of the charity took part in the ‘Helping Hands’ initiative. Children subconsciously influence their parents to contribute to charity. Ms Nekrasova instanced the ‘Red Nose – Warm Heart’ event where the proceeds from the sale of clowns’ noses went to pay for children’s heart operations. ‘Many young Muscovites responded to the ‘A Life is no Trifle’ invitation to donate their accumulated small change and rouble coins by bringing the contents of their piggy banks accompanied by the message “I hope you get well” or “I hope my donation will help you to get over the operation” recalled Ms Nekrasova. That was an example of conscious philanthropy on the part of the children.
The artistic director of the Smeshariki project and chair of board of the national children’s fund, Anatoly Prokhorov, considered that it is essential to encourage children to want to be philanthropists. He invited participants not only to revive past traditions of children’s charitable activity but also to create new ones. Formerly children were prohibited from working. Today young artistes work officially and may donate part of their fees, like the wards of the Yuri Rozum Fund who take part in charitable concerts.
The chief executive of one of the girls’ settlements had expressed some doubt about her charges’ readiness to listen to classical music. Mr Rozum was convinced that concerts had a positive influence on both the latter and the musicians who came to play to them. When children are successful they can be spoilt by the attention, applause, and fees that they receive and at times get the impression that they are the centre of the universe. ‘That centre must be transferred from the child to the outside world – ideally to other children who are growing up in more difficult conditions’, observed the musician. Mr Rozum is convinced that ‘This is something which not only the recipient of aid but also the young philanthropist needs and the children understand.’
Mr Prokhorov mentioned that alongside the involvement of children in charitable projects, there exists the problem of their exploitation and manipulation by adults, for example, when gifted children are put in the position of donating their fees without, however, having the opportunity to get to know much about the recipients. Another practitioner said that if adults engage in charitable activity because they think they owe it to society to do so, then their children will imitate their parents. A CAF representative also mentioned the practice of children in the West renouncing personal birthday gifts in favour of donations to a named charity.
It is open to any charity to initiate a round table within the framework of the ‘Charitable Russia’ project, which has been undertaken since 2008 by Lifeline and Production.Ru Communication Group. The particular event dealt with here was promoted by the Rozum International Fund