Love Russia works by personal, regular and considered support to its projects in Russia and Eastern Europe. Monitoring visits are made six times a year to as many projects as possible. Meetings are held with those responsible for the different institutions involved, progress since the last visit is reviewed, money is left to fund the projects until the next visit and new projects are identified. It is also an opportunity for meeting old friends and making new ones.
On his regular visits, Alex usually takes one or two UK supporters with him who can share in the experience and understand the challenges faced better. In this way, trust is built up between those responsible in Russia and the Love Russia team. Love Russia has gained the reputation of being the “ones that come back” – again, and again, and again … We believe that it is this trust which is the secret of working effectively in what we seek to do.
Not all organisations which set out to help Russian children work like this. Their aid may be generous but the application of it is not always carefully monitored. Often we find projects incomplete because problems have arisen and never been resolved or donated equipment has been left in store because it is inappropriate or no one knows how to use it. As well as its own projects, Love Russia has been able to complete these projects and bring unused gifts into service.
For capital projects, we insist on match funding from the Russian authorities. “Fifty-fifty” has entered the Russian language amongst those we work with as a term for the way we do business. Such is the regard that Love Russia is held in by some of the authorities that the 50% funding is usually forthcoming because it is known that our projects will be properly carried out and completed within budget.