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Lending a Helping Hand

Date of publication: 26 December 2018 Printable version

Tens of thousands of Transneft's employees do good deeds, devoting part of their time to volunteering.

WINDOW ONTO THE WORLD

Last week, Transneft’s volunteers came to a Mytishchi care home for the elderly and disabled located in the village of Belyaninovo, with 42 people residing there. The youngest one, Igor Zhorovs, is 50. Despite his age, Igor has been living here for a long time: having lost his both legs in an accident, he settled down here 10 years ago. The oldest dweller is Feodora Yevtikhiyevna Agalakova: on 23 December 2018, the residents and personnel celebrated her 99th birthday.

There’s a homelike cosiness inside the care facility and not a hint of austerity so typical of such establishments. By all indications, employees led by the director Oksana Krashnina do more than their job duties, cherishing humane attitudes towards the elderly. Hanging on the walls in the hallway are photos and reproductions of paintings, handmade lanterns and snowflakes decorating the ceiling remind of the forthcoming New Year, and exotic fish are moving unhurriedly in a large tank.

“We enjoy state funding and have everything we need; yet we’re always on the lookout for improvements,” says deputy director Yevgeniya Taimanova (on that day, Ms Krashnina went to Nizhny Novgorod to buy a new Gazelle van – author). “It’s impossible without charity providers; that’s why we send out letters to different companies and organisations.”

It was via a letter that we contacted Transneft. According to Ms Taimanova, it did not take long for the Company to respond and for its volunteers to come and bring some home appliances. Then, one of the employees donated several rose bushes that adorned the care home’s flower alley.

Hundreds of Transneft’s employees prepared gifts for the care home dwellers for the New Year: they bought LCD TVs, personal care items, laundry detergent, home appliances, tea sets, chocolate and sweets.

“We are in need of good TV sets, since most of those used are old junk with aerial sockets loose and half of the channels flickering,” says Mr Zhorovs. “My eyes start aching after just 15 minutes.”

Igor is an exceptional person. Every day at 6 a.m. he goes to the gym, where he stays till breakfast using an exercise machine and lifting hand weights. Most of the care home residents are confined to bed, and the TV is literally the only window onto the world for them. But even this window would close in January 2019, when digital broadcasting standards are to be introduced. They’d have to buy digital converters, which would cost at least 800 rubles per one TV set. So the gift of volunteers proved both pleasant and timely.

“I did not use to like TV before, giving preference to drama theatre and books, but I got used to it during a year here,” says another resident, Lyudmila Krasota. “I am 78, I have already exceeded the average life expectancy, and Father Frost has given me everything I could dream of, so expecting more gifts is somewhat embarrassing. And yet we look forward to New Year like little children. It’s so nice to see such kind-hearted young people visiting us!”

TREADING THE PATH OF GOOD

Head of the social development section at Transneft Far East, Andrey Afanasyev, is positive that people who do good deeds follow the call of their hearts.

“I have three kids; I sense their needs and anticipations and try to develop some handy household skills in them. Yet I understand that some children lack such parental care. One example is orphans, who could learn something useful communicating with adults. The problem is that they leave orphanages unfit for independent living. If not us, who else will care for them?” says Mr Afanasyev.

He is not the only one; there are other restless souls among his colleagues, who are constantly coming up with useful and kind initiatives.

For example, volunteers have organised a blood drive at their workplaces. Many employees of Transneft Far East donated their blood, above all, for little leukemia patients from the Piotrovich regional children’s hospital.

Being an experienced tourist, fisher and hunter, Andrey Afanasyev has taught a taiga survival course for inmates of the Khabarovsk children’s home No 4 jointly with his colleagues. About 20 children aged 9 to 14 set out for Khekhtsirsky nature reserve in a bus provided by Transneft, supervised by adults.

Then, the children went hiking up Mount Khekhtsir over the snow-white taiga and mastered campcraft. For the first time in their lives those kids set up tents, chopped wood, lit up campfires and cooked food. Mr Afanasyev said there were no words to describe the kids’ response to this short, one-day trip: they looked at things familiar to us with eyes open wide, shining with amazement and joy.  

In the opinion of the adult participants of the hiking tour, after trying to do something themselves, these kids won’t be panic-stricken, should they find themselves in a predicament. 

SAFETY IN NUMBERS…

Oleg Bocharov, head of the project management section at Transneft Technologies, is sure that many feel the need to help others, yet one person cannot solve a problem alone: a team of like-minded individuals is needed.

And a team of volunteers has indeed been formed, following the “blessing in disguise” principle. In late 2017, a proposal was posted on the corporate website to wish happy New Year to the children living in the orphanage of Selishchi Village. Photographs of the children were also posted, and in one of these there was a child who looked extremely emaciated. This touched the heart of Oleg Bocharov, and he decided to visit the orphanage. His colleagues supported him and pooled their resources to buy garments, groceries and other essentials.

It turned out that the boy needed to go to the hospital, since he had very low hemoglobin levels. The volunteers made an arrangement with doctors of the Morozov hospital and took the child there.

Now this boy is well. The hearts of an increasing number of Transneft’s workers go out to orphans, so they recently took the Kalyazin and Uglich orphanages under their patronage as well.

“I saw another evidence of people’s inner need to be kind when we were buying a PC. After the shop assistants learned we were buying it for an orphanage, they collected and donated three bags of useful articles like memory cards and sticks, plastic dishes and electric batteries,” said Mr Bocharov.

Now almost half of Transneft Technologies’ employees have joined the volunteer team, offering new projects and initiatives.

For instance, when the volunteers were congratulating veterans on the Victory Day, they noticed that the kitchen of Yelena Sergeyevna Kaprova, a Transneft veteran and a survivor of the Siege of Leningrad, was run-down. The employees formed a task force, dismantled her old kitchen and pooled resources to buy new furniture and building materials. Then, they invited builders they knew and assembled the cupboards on their own. It took the Company’s workers a fortnight to finish the overhaul, and on top of that they replaced the flooring in the corridor.

“I was only able to believe in what was happening after they brought the materials,” recalls Ms Kaprova. “The programmer Dima fitted the cupboards’ doors so perfectly as though this were his main trade!”

Ms Kaprova says she used to be ashamed of inviting people to her place, but after the repairs she started having frequent tea parties with her friends.

GOOD HABIT

The lead engineer of the project planning and preparation section at Chernomortransneft Yevgeniya Parfenova embarked upon the charity path with the help of a corporate tradition to make dreams of orphans come true during New Year holidays.

Like all other regional business units of Transneft, this one sets up a New Year tree decorated with children’s letters to Father Frost containing their wishes each December. Any employee of the Company may act as the fairy-tale character. Some buy gifts; others volunteer as entertainers or festival facilitators. Adults bestow priceless moments of happiness upon kids.

“In the 1990s I personally experienced what being in need is like. But we were helped by our family’s friends, and this sense of support has remained in my heart forever. This is why every time I can help someone, I do it. This has become a habit. Isn’t it a good one?” said Ms Parfenova.


Transneft’s employees sent each inmate of the Malakhov Children’s Tuberculosis Health Retreat (Moscow Region) the gift the child has asked Father Frost for.

While on maternity leave, she learned about Klub Dobryakov (the Club of Kind-Hearted People), which one can join and get updated on those needing support. The club’s members help seriously ill children and adults.

“On one occasion we were raising money to arrange bone marrow transplantation for the two-year-old Arseny Baitimerov,” Yevgeniya recalls. “We had to raise a huge amount, RUB 15 million, in 25 days! We were right on time: the baby is now undergoing rehabilitation after surgery.”

Yevgeniya crafted notepads and put them up for a charity auction; the money she raised was also used to fund Arseny’s treatment.

Roman Bordakov, a ‘butterfly child’ suffering from a rare skin pathology, lives in the city of Novorossiysk. This boy also had to undergo leg and dental surgeries. Various charity campaigns were organised in the city for this child. Furthermore, Yevgeniya reported his problems on the corporate website, and her colleagues responded immediately.  

“Roman’s mother called me and said that she was receiving different sums transferred to her bank account without even knowing the source!” says Yevgenia. “Roman has had an operation in Germany and has had his teeth fixed. We are now raising money for him to receive orthopedic treatment in the same clinic.”

ENERGY OF LIFE

Transneft Upper Volga’s area of responsibility includes 13 regions, with an increasing number of the Company’s employees involved in volunteer and charitable efforts in each of these. They arrange New Year’s festivals for orphans as well as “parties” for the elderly and the disabled; they help animal shelters, hold charitable campaigns to support low-income families and raise money to repair veterans’ apartments.   

“We have an extensive volunteer programme, we’re constantly developing and holding various charitable projects and events,” says Aleksey Rodin, head of Transneft Upper Volga’s press service. “A new line of activity has been suggested by the life itself. The point is that there are just several regular blood donors per one thousand residents in the regions, which means blood is worth more than gold. Therefore, we addressed our employees asking them to donate blood and made arrangements with the Nizhny Novgorod Transfusion Centre.   

Many employees responded to the call, and on August 15 there was a long line of people waiting for the mobile blood donation unit that drove up to the administration building of Transneft Upper Volga. On that day, 57 people donated 26 liters of blood. That was merely a drop in the ocean for Nizhny Novgorod Region. Blood is always in short supply, given that 1.5 – 2.0 liters of blood is needed for just one simple surgery, and a lot more is required for sophisticated surgeries.

But it’s not the amount that matters; the main outcome of the event was the regional transfusion centre having added new regular blood donors to its database. The blood drive’s participants were paid their lawful monetary compensation, which they unanimously decided to invest in books and utensils for a boarding school where blind children and children with impaired eyesight are reared. 

“About 300 people wanted to participate in the blood drive, but not all of them passed a rather stiff primary selection due to their medical indications,” says Mr Rodin. “Next year we’ll hold another Energy of Life event. I hope blood donation will become a good tradition for Transneft Upper Volga, especially since there are many vigorous and caring people among our employees.”  

VETERANS WILL STAY WITH US!

The Year of Volunteer is coming to an end, but the volunteer movement will continue. In 2019, Transneft plans to develop “silver” volunteering, inviting retired employees of the Company to get involved in social projects. The veterans will surely back this initiative.

“I retired 4 years ago. When you have plenty of spare time, it dawns upon you where your hands and skills may be needed. For instance, I’ve always been interested in working with children and youth, because this is a two-way street: you acquire new knowledge and share yours,” commented Naida Zulpukarova, ex-leading expert of Transneft. “To the best of my ability I could use my skills to organise various cultural and educational events. Mutual assistance is a traditional attitude for our people, which helped our nation survive times of trouble. This is our modus operandi, so to say, and it’s great that the Company supports this spirit!”

FIRST-HAND TESTIMONY

President of Transneft Nikolay Tokarev: volunteering unites people

The head of the Company reviews the results of the Year of Volunteer.


President of Transneft Nikolay Tokarev

“Last year we kick-started our Helping with Good Deeds charitable project meant to involve as many Transneft’s employees as possible in charitable activities. We wanted this important line of our activity to develop not only on the official, corporate level, but also enable everyone to get personally involved in the philanthropic mission.

Not only did this idea justify itself, but it also exceeded our boldest expectations. As you probably know, the year 2018 was declared the Year of Volunteer in Russia, and the team of Transneft has excelled at this endeavour.

My key point is that volunteering is based on interpersonal communication, where the charity giver gets to know the person they help. This approach has a very strong moral effect, uniting all participants, and I am sure that we largely owe our success to this effect.

This is not merely a donation of a certain sum, but real work with people. Our employees read letters from orphans, went shopping for them, and then brought the children the items, gifts and toys which those kids mentioned in their letters. Our employees helped elderly patients, including those residing in senior citizen homes, they got involved in other large-scale charitable events. The whole of it was done and is being done with great enthusiasm, and the number of people willing to help and devote part of their time and effort to this good purpose keeps rising steadily.

Practice has demonstrated that one project is not enough to accommodate all indifferent people and to unlock the tremendous potential of goodwill existing in our team. Therefore, a corporate volunteering programme for employees of Transneft and its subsidiaries has been developed and is being successfully implemented.

This is a wonderful initiative and a clear evidence of high moral attitudes and readiness for serious effort, which is demonstrated by our workers. I am positive that this work will be carried on.”

TRANSNEFT’S VOLUNTEER PROGRAMME

ONLY FIGURES

800 completed volunteer projects

 

RUB 13 million donated by individual workers

 

30,000 participants

42,300 people received help from our volunteers

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