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Masha Subanta: Charity under sanctions


Masha Subanta, founder of the "Club of Kind People" Foundation - on the catastrophic effect of sanctions on charity in Russia. 

After February 24th, everything has changed. And of course, the sphere of charity suffers too, because there are people here too. And the most unprotected ones.

Our foundation has wards from Ukraine, we have been in touch for years, even if the child is already healthy. Through our subscribers, we helped them evacuate to Europe. And I am very grateful to the people who responded and everything worked out.

Because of the increased exchange rate and the sharp rise in the cost of airfare, as well as the cancellation of flights, we temporarily suspended our travel abroad.

Our wards in Russia have already encountered the problem of the unavailability of certain medicines and consumables or their rising costs.

At the same time as the general price increase, the amount of collected funds has fallen.

Danya Voropayev, 6 years old, anaplastic astrocytoma of the spinal cord

Compared to the same period last year (January-March), there was 11 million rubles less in 2022.

Donors from abroad can no longer donate to us after March 9. This applies not only to the U.S. or European countries, but even to the CIS countries.

To compare, in December we received 855,000 rubles from 69 countries. In March, only 52 thousand roubles arrived from abroad. On the whole, the amount of donations to our foundation in March has not fallen much, by 5% so far. But it is clear that the situation will get worse.

This is the first time in more than eight years that I have encountered a situation where people want to transfer money and cannot.

Everyday people write to me, asking if there is any possibility to take part in collections from abroad. People write from Ukraine, too. But right now the only way to help is to transfer money to someone I know in Russia via the "Zolotaya Korona'' system, and that person will then transfer the money to the fund's account. This is too complicated and inconvenient. You cannot send a donation directly to the organization's account.

Agata Yerkina, 6 years old, Cerebral Palsy

Also in March, 677 subscriptions for regular (monthly) donations totaling 352 thousand rubles were canceled. Not only from foreign cards, but also from Russian ones.

I am already getting messages from some do-gooders that they are out of work because of the mass exodus of foreign brands from Russia. 

Also, the termination of Apple Pay and Google Pay in Russia has made the donation process less convenient, and many people simply don't want to bother entering their card details on the foundation's website.

Now we are in the process of opening a new account with another bank, because Sberbank is under sanctions. As a reason for this, we now cannot send money to foreign clinics or payments are returned, but not immediately and weeks later.

There is also a problem with balance refunds from foreign clinics now, the money just hangs on their accounts. And we could use them to help other patients, as we did before.

Mukhtorbek Nematbekov, 14 years old, congenital upper limb malformation

On the whole, looking at the difficulties currently experienced by the charitable sector, I would not be surprised if in the next year or two there will be widespread fundraising to the personal cards and even cash on trains and the subway. At the moment, the above mentioned is considered a mauvais ton among charitable organizations. And the second is not used at all: in the framework of the Declaration on Transparency non-profit organizations undertake not to collect cash in transport and on the street. The exception is - coordinated charity actions within the city festivals or other events.

Sonya Lobko, 8 years old, cerebral palsy


Andrei Baklanov, Head of the Spinal Pathology Center, MD (Russia):

"We continue to operate, we still have a stock of the necessary consumables. But of course, the logistics for new batches of materials will change and the price will go up. They used to be imported via Poland, but now this route will obviously not work. The ventilators needed for surgeries can work for about 15 years, even if there are no new supplies for a while."

Larisa Ugrinchuk, head of the department for foreign patients at Hospital Universitari General de Catalunya (Spain):

"Many patients from Russia and Ukraine who were planning to come to us are now unable to do so.

Refugees from Ukraine, who are now in Spain, if they need medical care, are referred to public hospitals.

We have a private hospital. But it's possible that if public clinics can not cope, some of the patients will be transferred to us, reimbursing all the costs of their treatment (as it was with Covid).”

Marina Hoffman, director of Medtravel (Latvia):

"Yes, there has been a sharp decrease in the flow of patients. Mostly we have citizens from Russia and Ukraine, and less so from Kazakhstan. Ukrainian citizens have an opportunity to be treated in Europe free of charge now. Refugee status entitles them to medical insurance.

Very few people go for medical treatment for money now. They are mostly those who have paid in advance. Or isolated cases who were able to pay through other countries (Kazakhstan, Great Britain).

We do not understand how to continue working, we are waiting and hoping for the best. As a matter of fact, there are enough local insurance patients in Europe, the share of foreigners is very small, no one from clinics will go bankrupt. Ordinary people suffer."

Vitaly Anatolievich Pak, Head of Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery Department of Ospedale del Cuore, Fondazione Toscana Gabriele Monasterio (Italy):

"Patients from Russia currently continue to come for treatment as before, finding detour routes through Dubai and Istanbul.

Patients from Ukraine cannot reach the destination due to well known reasons - there is no direct flight connection and not everyone has an opportunity to depart from Poland.

We had one case from Ukraine when a mother and her child couldn't return home to Western Ukraine. We, of course, helped the family stay in Italy for a few days so they could solve problems with the route and so on. They were provided with free housing near the the hospital. Eventually they went to their relatives in Poland. We, of course, paid for their travel and transportation."

Anna Simakova, Managing Partner of the "Three Sisters" Clinic (Russia):

"We do early rehabilitation and patients are often brought to us soon after being in intensive care. Therefore, our biggest concern right now is to provide them with the necessary medications. These patients can deteriorate at any time, and it is important for us to support them with medications. We have made a year's supply of necessary medications. Some of them (for example, anti-epileptic drugs for children) are not yet available on the market. Some have appeared, but at a much higher cost.

Naturally, there is also a high level of anxiety and uncertainty among the staff and patients, and people do not feel safe. Two of our staff members quit, saying they don't have the resources to help others right now.

And someone else, on the contrary, escapes the stress by helping patients. When refugees come to us, for example, after a stroke, we always try to refer them, reroute them."

By Masha Subanta