Kind Luxury had the pleasure to meet Oxana Fedorova, voted most beautiful woman in the world when she won Miss Universe in 2002. She is a philanthropist and founder of 'Hurry to make Wonders!', which takes care of families in need, orphans and people in difficult situations. In addition, the foundation promotes morals, spirituality and Russian traditions with numerous cultural activities. Before setting up 'Hurry to make Wonders!', Oxana has been very active with numerous charitable activities and was the Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. Today she shares her philanthropic journey with us and her vision for the future of her foundation.
|Mother and Philanthropist|
Founder of 'Hurry to make Wonders!', promoting morals, spirituality and Russian traditions
QUOTE YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE BY
|Hurry to make wonders! (Friedrich-Joseph Haass)|
Oxana, in 2002 you won the title 'Miss Universe' where the main duties are fundraising and goodwill ambassadorship. Could you share with us your experiences during this time as well as whether this was the start of your philanthropic journey?
After winning the title Miss Universe, the charity work was a big part of my responsibilities.
There were charity trips, lots of different events, participation in charity auctions and round-table discussions. We visited a lot of hospitals and orphanages and I was fully involved during this period. In my role as Miss Universe, UNICEF invited me to collaborate with them as their Goodwill Ambassador. I also travelled a lot during my work with them.
Philanthropy is not about how much you do, but it is about your intentions in doing good. All you do should be delivered with love.
You are very active in different charity projects and in 2009 you also established the foundation „Hurry to make Wonders!“. How did you come to set up your own foundation?
I guess I have already answered this question a little bit. It was really about realising that the time had come to structure my activities and give them a certain order and positioning.
My philanthropic journey started in 2002 when victory in the international beauty contest showed me the way towards doing good.
In 2009 I set up my foundation with the aim of helping to renovate churches and temples. We help people who face difficult life situations and support a range of orphanages both religious and secular. We also focus on patriotic and sports education for children. One of our biggest events was a concert in the Kremlin where we invited children from orphanages and remedial education centres.
What are the main challenges facing charitable foundations in Russia?
I believe that philanthropy is actually developing rather well in Russia. It is growing like a little child going through a growth spurt. It faces its challenges, tasks and issues.
I am sure that Russian philanthropy has a bright future especially with its links to our religion, culture and sense of patriotism.
Philanthropy cannot develop outside of a society or state. We see the transformation from quantity to quality. The period from 1990 to the beginning of 2000, where every single celebrity or corporation tried to launch their charity foundations, is now well and truly over. There are fewer activities based solely around corporate image and the real help given is much more visible. People are getting involved in philanthropy with an almost religious commitment. Our devotion to philanthropy is growing and it has become important to many Russian people. That’s why I say that philanthropy in Russia has a bright future.
One of the especially interesting elements with philanthropy in Russia, that I have noticed myself, is that it has become very patriotic.
Back in 2014, our Russian charities tended to be fixated on the West and needed to take a decision on whether they were with the people or wedded to their foreign sponsors. It was brought to the attention of the people that philanthropy is the same as any sphere of social activities and it should be kept apart from the political world and have a clear directive to help society and not to boost the careers of politicians.
Everyone can get involved regardless of their background or income.
The younger generation is organising volunteering groups which in their free time, amongst many activities, help the elderly, clean up streets and visit hospitals. It is becoming a trend and a way of self-fulfilment.
In 2011 you opened a school for girls aged 10-16 in Ufa Russia. Could you tell us more about this project?
I always wanted to open a creative school, where every child could develop and be open to new horizons. Once we organised an exhibition in Ufa and at that moment the idea was born with many people supporting our initiative. So a creative school for kids has been opened.
What you are philanthropic goals for the next five years?
I would like to keep developing our projects.
I want the book 'Little heroes of the big war' (a book about child heroes during the Great Patriotic war (World War II), which is published by the foundation of Oxana Fedorova) to become known by all pupils in Russia and that this book would be in every school as we should not forget the past but instead be proud of our history.
I do have an idea to organise a creative Orthodox festival. So we have a lot of ideas and plans and we believe that we can make it happen together with our friends and partners.
What was the most memorable project among those on your philanthropic journey?
It's hard to know which project I should start talking about first. Since 2014 we have hosted an Orthodox camp at the Black Sea for children from low-income and large families. Last year, cameras from the Children’s Social Cinema Studio joined the camp. The kids made a movie with them about the camp, a very nice, warm and deep movie where the main heroes were the children themselves. The landscape in the movie was fantastic – sea, wind and sun. Everything we do inspires us a lot.
I can’t fail to mention the concert at the Kremlin, which we hosted in 2012 for 5,000 children.
I was supported by a lot amazing artists and many other incredible individuals and I am extremely thankful to them for this.
The concert was great, but the preparation itself was very interesting. We worked on the concept over several months and, as a result, 5,000 children received a lot of happiness, experiences, lasting memories and gifts. We had some kids at our concert from a boarding school for blind children. They didn’t see the concert but they heard it and were extremely happy.
I would also like to talk about another project that's close to my heart, this is the 'Between us girls’ festival which was born after us visiting orphanages and speaking with girls, who don’t have enough knowledge about healthcare and lack the understanding of the role of being a future wife and mother. They don’t know what it means to have a family. I believe that it is not possible to be happy without a family. Whatever somebody wants to do with their life, they need to feel the support of their family. Without family, happiness doesn’t last long. It can’t be real without love, children and home. Happy families don’t come out of nowhere and it is hard work. Women are the foundation and the force to strengthen the family unit and create harmony.
In modern society, there is an opinion that work is the main priority. It shows peoples' social status, success and even personal happiness. Parents focus on the future career of their children from a very young age and it is not important for them how their family life will be.
I believe that setting up stable, supportive and happy families is the basis of it all.
Here we can look back to the 18-19th centuries, when it was impossible to imagine a woman who was a part of high society without knowing the household responsibilities. Our festival is the first step in educating girls from ten years old on how to foster a successful, stable and happy family. We want our girls to become good and happy mothers and wives. That’s why we host such festivals. We hosted this festival not only in Moscow, but we were also supported by experts in that sphere and women's organisations in various regions throughout Russia.
What does your day look like?
My typical day is normally quiet, well planned and focused, but of course it is different if there is an important event coming up. I wake up in the morning, take an ice-cold shower, drink a glass of water, pray, smile, kiss my children and eat breakfast. After that, I focus on work and spend the evenings together with my husband and children.
What does your foundation's symbol of the butterfly mean?
The symbol of our foundation is a butterfly, that symbolises for us how life is short and help is valuable only when it comes in time.
We need to feel and understand that every unpredicted event can change somebody’s life. That means that even a very small kindness can become something very important. Of course, we can’t change the world, but we can make it better in small parts by giving back. It is a duty of every person to share their comforts with others.
The name of the foundation 'Hurry to make Wonders!' is our motto, our focus and our aim. I always say, that it is important not only to help, but to help immediately otherwise it can be too late. The help needs to come in time.
To find out more about 'Hurry to make Wonders!' and all about the foundation's programmes visit en.fedorovafond.ru