Yardem Foundation may stop distributing free meals if they do not receive 36.5 million

Yardem National Islamic Charitable Foundation has asked for federal support to continue distributing free lunches to people in need

Yardem National Islamic Charitable Foundation, considered one of the richest in Tatarstan, claims to receive federal funding to continue the free distribution of food under the social project 'Road of Life'. Yardem has applied for participation in the competitive selection of the Presidential Grants Fund of the Russian Federation, requesting 36,5 million rubles for regular feeding of 700 needy from Tatarstan, Kirov Oblast and Mari El. The amount requested by the fund turned out to be the largest among the remaining 60 Tatarstan applicant projects with a total cost of over 100 million rubles in the direction of social services. If the project is rejected, Yardem will reduce or even stop issuing free lunch boxes from next year, Chairman of the Foundation's Board Ildar Bayazitov told Realnoe Vremya.

In the first wave of presidential selection

In October, the Presidential Grants Fund completed accepting applications from Russian NGOs to finance socially significant projects in the country's regions in 2022. A record amount of 10,2 billion rubles will be allocated for grant support of non-profit non-governmental organisations next year. As usual, it will be distributed in two stages — at the beginning and in the middle of the year. No prizes for guessing that the greatest chances of winning are at the very beginning of the competitive selection, when the organisers have almost the entire budget at their disposal, and in the second wave, residual resources that were unclaimed during the first selection of the year are tendered. Therefore, it is at the start of the competitive campaign that NGOs put forward the most expensive capital-intensive project applications that have a great social effect.

Tatarstan NGOs and public organisations have put forward more than 60 social projects for the first stage. All of them are in the priority area of the fund's work — social services, social support and protection of citizens, social support and protection of people in difficult life situations. The total cost of the announced initiatives is over 100 million rubles.

The largest grant amount from them was requested by Yardem national Islamic charitable foundation. To continue the well-known project on feeding homeless, infirm, and needy mothers of disabled children called 'Road of Life', the foundation applied for 36,5 million rubles from the federal budget with a total project budget of 40 million rubles. That is, 90% of the expenses are supposed to be raised at the expense of the grant, and the remaining 10% — from the funds of Yardem foundation itself. As it follows from the tender application, the Road of Life project is aimed at providing food assistance to disabled people over 18 years old, pensioners, families with children and large families in difficult life situations.

The project budget provides for the daily distribution of hot lunches in Kazan, with the exception of weekends, as well as monthly distribution of food packages among residents of three regions — Tatarstan, Kirov Oblast, and Mari El. In total, it is planned to cover 700 people with food aid, it follows from the foundation's tender application. Monthly food packages are estimated at 1,5 thousand rubles.

Hot meals will be distributed only in Kazan. Two hundred and twenty lunch boxes are supposed to be issued daily. The cost of lunch is estimated at 250 rubles. The Petrov Park in Kazan will remain the main point, where a year ago they began distributing hot meals to those in need. According to the press service of the foundation, lunches contain a second course with meat (pilaf, buckwheat porridge, mashed potatoes, etc.), vegetable salad (cabbage or seasonal vegetables), bread, hot tea from a thermos with sugar is served separately.

Help is nearby: Yardem is ready to go to Kirov and Volzhsk

The Yardem programme acquires an interregional status with entrance to neighbouring regions, which increases the chances of winning.

"400 people are residents of Kazan and the republic. Another 300 are residents of Kirov in Kirov Oblast and Volzhsk in the Republic of Mari El. The choice of these regions is due to the general level of social protection of the population," the press service of Yardem Foundation explained.

Since the foundation is engaged in the rehabilitation of blind people and people with hearing loss, a lot of disabled people from all over the Volga Region come to Kazan. Here they receive not only medical care, but also financial support, because most disabled people have a very short income. Pensions are barely enough for medicines and utilities. The Foundation does not refuse them food assistance, so the geography of the Road of Life project unwittingly went beyond the borders of Tatarstan. The foundation does not have to compile a register of those in need, as they do, for example, in the Ministry of Labour of the Republic of Tatarstan on the basis of income information. Sick people come to the foundation themselves, and the fate of each of them leaves an unforgettable mark in the memory of its specialists.

And yet, Tatarstan is a priority of the foundation's work.

“In terms of the coverage of charitable assistance to the entire Republic of Tatarstan, we, as a national Islamic charitable foundation, see this goal as strategically important for ourselves," the press service of Yardem told. “In general, the project helps to solve the problem of people who are below the poverty line, as well as those who, due to their physical condition or circumstances, cannot or find it difficult to leave the walls of their home.

Let us remind that the foundation launched the project “Road of Life” to feed the homeless and the poor in Kazan last spring, when the pandemic began.

“Then we were feeding 2 thousand people daily. It required 310 thousand rubles a day for lunch boxes," Chairman of the Foundation's Board Ildar Bayazitov told Realnoe Vremya. “Hot lunches were given out continuously for 3-4 months. We practically spent 14 million rubles from the fund's own funds in three months. Once the action was interrupted for three days. We arrive, and a helpless elderly woman thanks us from the threshold: “It's good that you have come, I haven't eaten anything for three days. She's so sick that she can't cook anymore. And there are a lot of such helpless people in Kazan, much more than 500," he says.

According to him, there are a lot of women in the city who raise disabled children alone, a lot of lonely blind people who have been abandoned by their loved ones.

“Well, naturally, we don't cover everyone," he says. “We help those who contact us, as well as if we receive information that a person needs help," said the chairman of the board of Yardem Foundation. “There are significantly more of them than we think.

Charitable tithing

It should be noted that Yardem national Islamic charitable foundation is considered one of the richest in Tatarstan. According to SPARK-Interfax system, the foundation received about 34 million donations last year. This is many times more than funds usually receive. The average amount is 3 million rubles a year. But then why is Yardem ready to co-finance the project by only 10%?

Explaining the ratio of attracted and own funds of the application budget (this is 90% and 10%), Ildar Bayazitov explained that the fund intends to save some of the resources for the rest of the fund's work — rehabilitation of the blind, assistance to children.

“We have submitted such a large application so that the fund has enough resources for other projects in this difficult time," he said.

“The Foundation works in 10 areas of charitable assistance. This includes rehabilitation of disabled people of different categories, a boarding house for boys in the Baltasinsky district, Family Hearth children's home, where children deprived of parental care are brought up, etc. All of them require financing," the press service of Yardem Foundation specified.

What if they don't approve?

If the foundation's application is not approved, will the social project “Road of Life” be preserved? The chairman of the foundation's board, Ildar Bayazitov, suggested that the foundation “will not be able to cope” and feeding may be suspended from next year.

“Now we don't stop feeding people," he said. “And if it is not approved, we will look at our capabilities. I can't say yet what will happen next, but we will try to work," he assured.

The foundation indirectly confirmed this.

“The Road of Life campaign existed and continues to exist based on the availability of funding: grants of federal and regional significance, voluntary sponsorship contributions and donations. If the application does not receive support, the action will be continued on the scale of the available funding," Yardem's press service explained.

The large amount of the application makes it difficult to get to the final, and the maximum rating of the jury experts can bring uniqueness and interregional status to the project, the representatives of charitable foundations of Tatarstan believe. Out of 10,484 projects submitted by NGOs to the competition, more than half claim a small amount of up to 3 million rubles. As before, non-profit organisations requested the most grants in the group from 500,000 to 3 million rubles. There are 53% of such projects in this competition, data is provided on the website. Another third of the initiatives fall on smaller projects — up to 500 thousand rubles.

In general, the average grant amount according to the results of the competitive selection in April 2021 amounted to 2 million rubles. Although there are exceptions. For example, at the beginning of this year, the largest grant amount — almost 119 million rubles — was received by Yury Bashmet's high-profile project “Young Talents of Russia”, which is aimed at supporting the project of the All-Russian Youth Symphony Orchestra, educational programmes for talented youth. The allocation of 53 million rubles was approved by the Doctor Lisa Fair Aid Foundation to help seriously ill and wounded children of Donbass.

In Tatarstan, the largest presidential grant of 18 million rubles was received by the charitable non-profit organisation New Century. Last spring, it became the winner of the contest with the project “Test for Victory”, which is designed for free testing for AIDS in 9 regions. Test-Mobiles operates in 9 regions, of which 5 are in the top 24 most HIV-affected regions of Russia. According to the organisers, they should become the entry point to the project for people who do not apply to NGOs and state institutions and are hidden carriers of HIV, especially in areas that are difficult to access for specialised care.

NGOs have received more than a billion for social support

But will the fund be able to handle expensive projects? Under what conditions do they receive the approval of the jury? Realnoe Vremya submitted a request on this matter to the press service of the Presidential Grants Fund. They explained that the results of the competition will be announced before January 15, 2022.

Yardem submitted an application in the direction of “Social services, social support and protection of citizens”. This is one of the most popular destinations among the contestants.

“For two competitions in 2021 in this direction, non-profit organisations from different regions of the country submitted 2,907 projects. 549 initiatives were supported for a total of 1,1 billion rubles. For example, the foundation supported the project “Urgent social assistance to the homeless and people who find themselves on the street in Moscow in a crisis situation due to the loss of work, housing, livelihood in the situation of the spread of COVID-19". The project received a grant of 6,306,821 rubles," the press service explained.

The project “Give food!” — the launch of a soup kitchen — was supported by a grant of 7,8 million. More than five million more were received by the project of urgent low-threshold social assistance to homeless people in Perm: it represents a day centre.

Closure of social canteens

Let us remind that the first attempt to feed the poor Kazan residents was made by Bakhetle retail chain a few years ago. Then the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Republic of Tatarstan distributed lunch coupons among the poor. Canteens were opened for them, where charity dinners began at 11 am. The idea to open social canteens for people below the poverty line originated with the general director of the network, Muslima Latypova.

“It is a great honor for our company to take on this difficult task," she said. “The project should help those in need and remind businessmen of the need to revive patronage in Tatarstan.”

However, due to the pandemic, social canteens were closed, she said to Realnoe Vremya. She refused to give detailed comments. But they still could make the example contagious for entrepreneurs: there are several entrepreneurs in Kazan who donate independently to feed the needy.

Luiza Ignatyeva
Kirov OblastTatarstan