Ending the Circle of Disability and Poverty in Russia

Choosing this one out of the 17 Global Goals was an easy task, as my entire life and the work I do seems to revolve around inequality.

Thinking about it brings me back to the late 1980s and my childhood in the industrial Soviet city of Nizhny Novgorod. I was the older sister in a single-parent family with a disabled younger sister, Oksana. We lived in extreme poverty with often not much to eat. I still clearly remember feeling like a complete outcast of society so many years ago.

I also remember minimal specialist care available to my sister, nowhere to go, no special schools, no childcare, nothing. My mother and I were Oksana’s caretakers 24 hours a day. This meant my mother couldn’t get a permanent job, I couldn’t study properly and our entire lives revolved around survival. It was a vicious circle; one without support. Disability and poverty often go hand in hand and I clearly felt it.

And then — bang — fast forward a couple of years and I am dining in the best restaurants of Paris with some of the wealthiest people in Europe. How did it make me feel? That something was wrong with the world and I had to do something about it.

Luckily for all of us here on this planet, people are mostly very generous. The fashion industry has been incredibly supportive, and some wonderful individuals and fantastic businesses from around the world came forward to support our work at the Naked Heart Foundation.

What we do is, in fact, tackle that very vicious circle of disability and poverty. By providing free professional-support services for families raising children with special needs across Russia, we give those parents a chance to look after themselves and to work themselves out of —> Read More