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Sometimes, the small steps taken can be so important that they create significant and beautiful differences in people's lives - Sevda Hagverdiyeva (Interview)

Sometimes, the small steps taken can be so important that they create significant and beautiful differences in people's lives - Sevda Hagverdiyeva (Interview)

We interviewed Sevda Hagverdiyeva, the president of the Red Hearts Foundation and the founder of this successful initiative, discussing the achievements in the year 2023 and the future plans of the Foundation, which successfully completed the year with great success.


-How was the last year for Red Hearts?


-It would better to express the answer to this question not in words but in numbers. It was a year in which 31,934 donors contributed 1,521,238 manats in 3 different directions, with the involvement of 4,028 beneficiaries and 242 volunteers. These indicators mean an even greater responsibility for the future activities of the Red Hearts Foundation and a significant commitment in front of the people who believe in us.


-Is there a special mechanism in place or are you continuing with traditional methods to reach more people, considering that these are significant figures for a foundation initiated by volunteers, turning small steps into a grand mission? Probably, your goals for the coming years are even more ambitious.


-Of course, we are striving to adapt to the standards of the time in this regard, and I can say that social media platforms are significant help for us on this matter. Clearly, the direction of people's support can vary. For example, individuals supporting environmental conservation efforts may sometimes be more or less compared to others. As the Red Hearts Foundation, our goal in choosing three different directions is to adjust both our donation strategy and support mechanisms. If I present specific indicators in both directions, last year, in the “Community” category, 31,430 donors contributed 1,489,351 manats, in the "Environment" category, 281 donors contributed 27,047 manats, and in the “Animal” protection" category, 223 donors contributed 4,705 manats. Behind these figures are the excitement, diligence, big hearts of our team, and the wonderful emotions that arise from the results. For instance, as part of the “Hər şey mümkündür” project, we conducted 8 master classes with socially conscious groups of 96 children with Down syndrome and autism. You can imagine how fulfilling it is to help these children acquire new skills and provide them with wonderful memories that will last a lifetime


-Last year, the United Nations had a statistic by the end of the year that over 55% of the world's population lives in cities, and this figure could increase to over 68% by the year 2050. Red Hearts Fund has numerous initiatives related to the environment. We would like to know your thoughts on this matter.


-You touch upon a very important subject. Global urbanization, situations like depletion of natural resources, especially a decrease in drinking water, and an increase in pollution rates are serious messages to all of humanity that it is time for us to take action towards nature. In our “Təmiz mühit, təmiz gələcək” campaign, we collected 4.2 tons of waste from a total of 15 hectares, including Bilasuvar region (Bolgar River), Shabran region, Hovsan town, and Bilgeh town. Our “Vətən bağı” project, in which 6,355 trees were planted in 27 regions, is one of our most successful initiatives in this regard.


Within the framework of our “Recycle batteries, protect nature” project, we collected 750 kg of used batteries this year alone, and we handed them over to ETSN, with whom we closely collaborated within the project. Additionally, I would like to highlight our partnership and participation in the "Baku International Conference on Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance" held for the preparation of the roadmap in the areas of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. As you know, this year is significant for our country in this regard. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has signed an Order on declaring 2024 as the “Green World Solidarity Year” in the country. This is a crucial step in the fight against the consequences of climate change. I believe this decree will bring more attention to ecological issues in our country, and the number of corporate social responsibility projects in this direction will increase.


-In the world, philanthropy has been present for many years and is considered a significant culture. Funds and foundations such as “UNICEF,” “World Wildlife Fund” (WWF), and organizations like “AHBAP Derneyi” can serve as examples. But what about donation culture in our country?


-Yes, philanthropy has a long history in our culture. If we look at history, we can see that helping and supporting others have always been part of our civilization. However, in recent times, these initiatives were carried out more individually. As the Red Hearts Fund, we have organized and systematized these initiatives, and this process is still ongoing. Trust is crucial in philanthropy, and people should be confident that their donations are reaching the right individuals. This, in turn, highlights the importance of transparency on our part.

During the earthquake in Turkey, our “Türkiyə üçün bir ürək olaq” campaign, which collected 742,245 manats for the assistance of more than 26,000 citizens, was donated to the “AHBAP Derneyi” whose name you mentioned. The willingness of people of all ages to contribute even their last money during that period demonstrated that this philanthropic spirit is ingrained in our culture, showcasing the unity and compassion of our people.

Donation is not a one-way street globally, and it's pleasing to see support in various directions increasing in our country as well. For example, the number of people supporting animal protection is significant, as evidenced by the continuity of our “Pəncəli ürəklər” campaign.


-As you mentioned, each of these initiatives is also an opportunity to touch the lives of people in need. Do you have any memorable moments?


-You know, with every donation made, with every encounter, there are memories so rich in meaning that fatigue doesn't linger in a person. The joy of the 25 students who became winners of the “Qırmızı Ürəklər Təqaüd Proqramı” the completion of fully renovated homes for 9 martyr families in the “Tarix yazan qəhrəmanlarımız” project, and the one-time financial assistance provided to 70 of our veterans of the war for the defense of the motherland are moments of pride that are felt in time and can be remembered. For example, when talking to one of our scholarship recipients, I learned that her first-year tuition, which her family couldn't afford, was covered by her uncle's family because her uncle had sacrificed his life for the homeland. I still remember the joy in that girl's voice when she heard that she would receive a scholarship from us. Of course, we must not forget our volunteers, as they are the ones who stand by us in times of these initiatives.


-When it comes to volunteers, what motivates you and your team?


-Sometimes, the small steps taken can be so important that they create significant and beautiful differences in people's lives. This is because I believe that the moments experienced with them remain in their lives and ours forever. In our “Vətən bağı” project, the most significant contributors were the students of the “Baku Education Information Center”. It's noteworthy that many universities around the world take into account the participation of candidates in such actions and projects when admitting students. Certificates that students receive from us can be a motivation for them. Later, the distribution of festive gifts to families during holidays, assistance provided to those families, and the beautiful initiatives with them are unforgettable and irreplaceable experiences for us.


-Thank you for accepting our interview invitation, Mrs. Sevda. If you have anything additional to add or if there's something you'd like to say to the people, please feel free to share.


-Thank you. Behind every initiative we've discussed, there are positive emotions that affect both our lives and the lives of those we support. The value of these emotions cannot be measured by any amount of money or material means. Our door is always open to all proposals and initiatives for the protection of our society, nature, and animals. What started as an initiative three years ago with a family of 49 has now grown into a team with over 200 volunteers and has become a Fund with notable achievements, and I am confident that our family will continue to grow.



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