By Bejay Browne
THIS has been a funny old year in Cyprus, but so much negativity has only helped to highlight the huge efforts of many charities, associations and individuals who are doing all they can to improve society.
The work which the Dashin foundation has undertaken in 2014 has helped to change hundreds of adults and children’s lives for the better all over Cyprus.
The Limassol based foundation was set up by a Russian businessman and his wife just seven months ago, and they have already reached astonishing levels of financial and material aid whilst fostering a real climate of philanthropy.
Julia and Andrey Dashin launched the Dashin Foundation in May 2014 and since then have managed to donate over €200, 000 to numerous organisations, foundation projects, causes and events, as well as individuals who were in desperate need of help.
The couple said they hope that their efforts will inspire others to be socially pro-active. They are touched by the letters of thanks they receive daily and also by people contacting them who are willing to volunteer and help.
The foundation has celebrated its first Christmas with a number of charitable causes which included every child writing to Santa via the charity receiving a present they requested.
This modest couple are intrinsically committed to helping others, and regard philanthropy as a way of life. And in that aim, the Christmas period is crucial.
“Christmas and New Year are very close to my heart as special childhood memories are created which will last a lifetime, so it’s important that we try and help where it’s needed,“ said Julia.
In addition to these special initiatives and the daily applications for support received by the foundation, they have also donated funds to a number of children’s causes this Christmas. This included sports equipment for the 50 children at Yermasoyia kindergarten and a donation to Young Volunteers – an NGO in Nicosia – for food vouchers toward families in need.
They also visited the ‘Amalthea’ children’s day care centre in Limassol to present chocolate baskets to 30 children.
“Christmas this year will hopefully be a little brighter for these children with our help. All children are entitled to opportunities and to be loved equally and unconditionally, but this is not always the case,” she said.
The Dashin’s are committed philanthropists and Andrey said that he believes he has a responsibility.
“At times, giving may be spontaneous and other times it needs careful consideration, though a series of spontaneous actions led to establishing the Dashin Foundation in Cyprus.”
In the last seven months the foundation has helped over a dozen organisations including the Cyprus Autism Association, Cyprus Kidney Association (ex-pats), Radiomarathon, Panos Evripidou Foundation, Young Volunteers Cyprus, Hope For Children UNCRC Policy Center, Folia Agapis Foster Family Association, Limassol Metropolis and the Limassol Children’s Shelter.
In addition to numerous donations, aid was also given to individuals, including financial assistance towards medical costs and the ‘Kindness in a Box’ initiative which provided food boxes, electrical appliances and other means of help.
“It’s important to have values in life and to understand the value of money and appreciate what you have. Appreciation and respect for the little things requires a certain amount of wisdom which comes with age; Julia and I nurture these values in our children,” said Andrey. “Charity work, volunteering and giving back to society are important steps towards this goal and I hope that as parents, we will become good role models for our children and that our actions will motivate them in the future.”
Dashin said that hard work and determination is the key to success and that the desire for happiness is a great motivator. The Russian businessman said that he firmly believes that members of society, particularly privileged ones, need to play a bigger role and be more socially proactive.
Not surprisingly, family life is important to the Dashins, and they are spending the festive season with extended family at their country house in their hometown of Kazan in Russia, surrounded by snow and a blue pine forest.
“We will have our dinner together and exchange presents; put up and decorate a tall Christmas tree outside, drink mulled wine, cook ginger biscuits, take a sleigh ride and ski,” said Julia. “It’s wonderful but we look forward to returning to the warmth of Cyprus after the cold and the snow.”
In May 2015, the foundation will mark its first anniversary with a number of projects and events. February will see the re-launch of ‘Kindness in a box’, a donation to the Cyprus Anti-Cancer Association for the launch of their 24-hour Home Care service and a donation to the primary school in Deryneia for the renovation of the children’s recreational facilities.
“I believe that the foundation will develop and grow and more campaigns will evolve in the coming year which we hope will offer a broader supportive shoulder to lean on for the community,” said Andrey.