Margarita Lieva (TARAN) - Uniting people to save sick children

Margarita Lieva (Taran) was awarded the Imperial Order of St. Anne for her outstanding charitable work. Here she shares her philanthropic journey with us. Margarita grew up in Novosibirsk the third largest city in Russia after Moscow and St. Petersburg. Currently she resides in Moscow where she is engaged in charitable activities. Prior to her move to Moscow she used to work as a model in Europe and in the United States.




  Margarita Lieva (Taran)  


  Mother of three, Co-founder of the foundation 'ZHIVI' and Co-founder of online platform about health and beauty 'BeautyHack'


  Saving children with oncohematological diseases, provide better treatment facilities in clinics and help in developing a bone marrow registry in Russia.  


   My mother Elena


  Every moment of life is a new opportunity! - Gabriel Garcia Marquez  

The Foundation ‘ZHIVI’ (Live) was officially registered in 2013 in Moscow and Novosibirsk, although the initial idea behind the charity was born in 2008? What was the key driver to its founding?


In December 2008, my husband launched a Christmas Charity Ball which was attended by the business community of Novosibirsk. This event brought together people that wanted to help severly ill children. At that event, the funds raised on the night were given to the 'Life Line' foundation that helps children with cardiovascular illness.


Today the Christmas Charity Ball has become a tradition which has now raised RUB 70 million over 9 years.


This initiative has now become the charity foundation called ‘ZHIVI’. 

When did you join the foundation?


My active involvement started in 2013, in the year of the official registration of the foundation. As co-founder I was responsible for the development of the constitution and strategy of the foundation. I have now been managing the foundation for four years. We will celebrate our anniversary on the 28th of April.


Philanthropy has become an important part of my life and I am happy to have this opportunity to be able to help others.


I am also pleased to learn that philanthropic initiatives in Russia is developing; the number of foundations and volunteers is increasing. 


What was the most memorable moment in your philanthropic journey?


For me the most memorable moment came when our foundation started to be recognised by people. At one of the events, I let it be known that I was the founder of the charity foundation 'ZHIVI', which helps severly ill children. I had not expected it but people started to respond that they heard of the foundation and its work. I was so happy at that moment.

The foundation organises different fundraising events with the aim of supporting the charity's initiatives. In your opinion, what are the key factors for fundraising success?


In every fundraising event planning plays the key role, defining the target audience and understanding the results that you want to achieve.

What are the plans for the 'ZHIVI' foundation over the next three years? 


It is difficult to plan that far; we review the activities of our foundation on an annual basis and take the decisions on the directions we want to take to move forward. For example, in 2017, we want to work on attracting attention to early diagnosis of children’s malignant blood diseases.


Annually in Russia, approximately 1,500 children get leucosis and only 50% survive. One of the reasons for such a high level of deaths is late or incorrect diagnosis.


We also plan to continue supporting the regional Onco-haematology (acute leukaemia) centres, where we provide an environment for qualitative and modern treatment for children with leucosis. We help to purchase high-tech equipment, set up treatment areas and cover the cost of medical tests for the exact diagnosis of the illness.


The foundation ‘ZHIVI’ has lots of plans.  But the most important one we want to achieve is that parents of children with leucosis understand that this is a diagnosis and not the end of the world. It is possible to treat their children’s cancer.

What challenges are faced by foundations and their management in Russia?


First of all, we face fundraising challenges to keep the foundation programmes active and to find quality resources with a limited budget.


Also, when you get deep into the details of the charity sphere and understand how global the problem is, you feel under a very hard emotional pressure.


In that moment, it is so important to stop, take a deep breath to calm down and plan your next move to keep moving forward. And of course, don’t give up!


Margarita, how does your typical day look like as the co-founder of the charity foundation?


My day is full of events as I am not only the co-founder of the foundation ‘ZHIVI’ but also a mother of three children, wife and co-founder of the beauty platform ‘BeautyHack’. I spend mornings together with my family, preparing breakfast, taking my kids to school and then spending some time for myself by going to the gym. Afterwards, I usually go to the office and most of the day I spend at work. In the evenings I may attend a presentation or an event, but mostly I am at home spending time together with my husband and children. Despite the foundation and all my other projects, it is important for me to spend time with my family. 

Are your twin-boys interested in your philanthropic activities? Do you think it is important to talk to your children about those in need or about volunteering?


They know what I do, but we have not spoken about philanthropy until now as I was waiting for their own interest in this topic to develop. That moment came when I was in the process of preparing for a festive fundraiser and I brought home a charity box. They asked what it was and then I shared the story about people in need and how they need our help. They also now learn at school about the importance of charity - several times a year they bake cookies and make crafts, which they sell to their parents at festive events. All funds raised are given to an orphanage, which is supported by the school. From my point of view, this is the right approach.


We need to show our children how to make a difference but we should never force them to do so.


The wish to help comes always from inside; that is why I prefer to pay attention to the personal education of my kids and want to be a good role model for them.

What advice could you give to a person that just steps into his/her philanthropic journey?


I would recommend not being afraid of criticism as some people can consider your charity work as a PR attempt. You need to be ready to make mistakes in this challenging but important area. I would also like to add that it is important to keep your business and private life separate. You need to make sure not to burn yourself out by being deeply involved in the problems of others. Doing so can have a negative influence on your business and personal life as well as your health.


If a person lives in harmony with themselves, then their energy will be moved in the right direction and they can conquer the world.    

If you would like to learn more about ZHIVI and the work that they do visit

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