Not expecting something in return” “

Days of Philanthropy under way nationwide. Volunteering and altruism

“Philanthropy as a lifestyle” – under this motto, the individuals and organizations mobilize their forces to promote all kinds of altruistic service for the others during the Days of Philanthropy taking place from 18 November till 18 December in Slovakia. The aim of the project initiated by the Forum of Donors is to appreciate the efforts in favour of the needy, beginning by financial donorship, through volunteering, cooperation of non-profit organizations with companies and massmedia, and ending by a simple sense of solidarity with our neighbours. “While its last year´s edition was of regional importance, bringing together the countries of the central Europe, this year we have established the first European Day of Donors and Foundations”, explains Lucia Faltinová, vicepresident of the Government Council for Human Rights in Slovakia. Program of love and responsibility. According to the last year´s laureate of a prize “Philanthropist of the Year 2012” and this year´s president of the jury, catholic priest Anton Srholec, philanthropy represents an essential part of every society. “It´s a secular community of people who realize the ancient program of love and responsibility through a new language in the contemporary society. Not expecting anything in return, just being inspired by joy and conviction that we won’t take anything with us to the other side when we die. A basic human need to balance the differences in any area of our life, mainly in the social sphere”, explains Fr. Srholec, reminding of the example of great philanthropists of the past who were the great benefactors of the humanity: “Also thanks to them it´s possible to live in dignity and freedom today”. The program of the Days of Philanthropy includes events like “School of Philanthropy” aimed at helping the non-profit organizations to “find the right orientation in the world of donors and multisource financing”; workshops on fight against domestic violence; seminars on responsibility of massmedia in regard to philanthropy; or a campaign “Slovakia needs good fathers”. “This year we are introducing the Mark of Quality with aim to help people discern among the growing number of various foundations and find the transparent and trustful ones”, says Sona Lexmanová from the Donors´Forum for SIR Europe, expressing hope that this step will “contribute to the development of culture and tradition of civil society”. One day I need help, next day I offer it. “The Philantrophist of the Year 2013”, selected by an independent jury, is Miroslav Bilík, founder of a civil association “To children for Life”. His philanthropy was motivated by serious illness of his little son who suffered from cancer several years ago. He has combatted the illness with success but his father has decided to continue with his work to help other children with similar destinies and their parents. “Sometimes saving of human life requires very little – simply the will to help. This award represents a great challenge for me to continue with my mission”, says the laureate. In regard to company philanthropy, in 2012 the donors contributed with 4.3 million EUR in total – 87,7% through direct financial donations, 5% were benefactions of non-financial kind and 7,5% represented the volunteering work and services of the employees of big companies provided to people in need. According to the Donors´Forum, the number of the people involved in philantrophy has grown significantly since the last edition of the project – in regard to the companies as well as to the individuals. “It might come as a surprise in this time of crisis, but I think it´s a basic human sense for solidarity with others that naturally shows mainly in the most difficult periods”, comments Radovan Gumulák, general secretary of Caritas Slovakia. Fight against child abuse. A special attention within the framework of the Days of Philantropy was paid to activities that require solidarity of each one of us face to face with concrete problems appearing in the society, especially in regard to prevention of child abuse. Volunteers coordinated by the non-governmental organization “Little Sun Center” distributed in 37 towns the leaflets and information materials with statistical data and ways to help children who suffer from violent treatment. The campaign´s title “Without bruises” was aimed to raise the awareness of public to the phenomenon of abuse, reminding that – according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Work, Social Affairs and Family – about 36% of children in Slovakia have experienced certain form of violence in their lives. According to Marianna Kovácová, director of “The Little Sun Center”, the children´s rights are most often violated by torture, sexual abuse and neglecting. As she adds, “children almost always remain alone with their problem and it needs more attention from the adults to actually identify it and then undertake the necessary steps to announce the suspicion to the authorities in charge”.

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