By Zaynab Muhammad-Dost
Last Sunday, Solidarity with Uzbekistan, a digital fundraising campaign benefited from yet another webinar to help raise money for the vulnerable people affected by COVID-19 lockdown in the country. An interesting lecture about the Savitsky Museum given by its former director Marinika Babanazarova was fully booked. Held at 3pm in London, the Zoom-session attracted over 40 participants dialing in from all around the world, including guests from Europe, New Zealand, Peru, and Canada.
Located in Nukus, this Uzbekistan’s museum is a jewel hidden in its north-western part – Karakalpakstan. Due to the latter’s arid climate, the museum is sometimes referred to as the Louvre of the Desert. It hosts the world’s greatest collection of avant-garde art (ironically, the collection is famous abroad, albeit not so well-known by the Uzbeks within or across the globe). Marinika Babanazarova gave an insightful lecture about the art collection and life of Igor Savitsky, the museum founder, who managed to rescue dissident or “forbidden” art pieces turning all into a museum in 1966. The lecturer had a lot to share having served as the museum’s director for over 30 years (she was trusted to do so by the late Savitsky himself).
An engaging talk led to many questions, which transformed an initially planned 45-minutes webinar into full two hours. Touching on art collections, rare artifacts, Karakalpak culture, history and life of the founder, this lecture helped to raise additional $6,000 for the Solidarity with Uzbekistan campaign.
Launched in April 2020 by Uzbek diaspora in France and UK, the GoFundMe campaign currently stands at £24K GBP thanks to generous donations from Uzbek diaspora and friends of Uzbekistan. The organisers hope the fundraising (welcoming donations at GoFundMe) continues generating interest.
The funds raised will be matched by the EBRD community initiative special fund, according to Kamola Makhmudova, one of the UK organisers. “In line with the terms of EBRD’s “Community Initiative” program, the fundraising campaign may continue until December 1, 2020 or until the donations reach 50 thousand euro” she said.
The beneficiary is an Uzbek NGO – “Ezgu Amal” Foundation that supports children at high-risk – especially those fighting cancer. “Ezgu Amal” is trusted to distribute the funds for social and medical needs of the people the most affected by the pandemic, including minors at risk. The NGO was chosen by the campaign organisers in good faith after a series of interviews and careful selection process. “Ezgu Amal” promises to allocate the funds in accordance with the guidelines amid the lockdown constraints during this difficult time. Organisers say the NGO will be fully accountable, as it will provide transparent and detailed reports on the use of funds.
Prior to last weekend’s lecture, Solidarity with Uzbekistan campaign was boosted by #dance4Uzbekistan challenge. It saw professional dancers from Uzbekistan teach various types of Uzbek dance moves to numerous participants globally. Another Zoom-session was dedicated to making palov, Uzbekistan’s most favourite dish, by an Uzbek chef – Bahriddin Chustiy.