Each Christmas for over a decade, Etienne Russo and the villa eugénie team have sent a financial donation to a different charity. The organizations that we’ve chosen to support provide invaluable aid and services to individuals, families and communities whose lives are often unimaginably worse off than our own.
From facilitating clean water supplies to sending emergency humanitarian aid, or funding surgical operations and distributing laptops to disadvantaged children, the tireless and pioneering work of these charities helps transform lives and nurture future generations. We’re proud to say it’s become an annual tradition, and one we’ll honor for years to come.
The Shoe That Grows
The charity Because International has invented a genius shoe designed for needy kids in developing countries: The Shoe That Grows. A shoe that can be adjusted to accommodate up to five different sizes of feet and is durable enough to last at least five years. The Idaho-based nonprofit manufactures these shoes in areas where they are being distributed most frequently. Not only can the children benefit but also the families as The Shoe That Grows provides local jobs.
The NGO is investing a part of its resources into research and development - including ways to use recycled plastic and used tires - to continue alleviating their environmental footprint. Innovative products like The Shoe That Grows help kids be healthier, attend school more often and feel more confident. The villa eugénie donation is providing pairs of shoes to kids in Kenya.
World Land Trust
World Land Trust is an international conservation charity that protects the world’s most biologically significant and threatened habitats by creating wildlife reserves. The British NGO has been instrumental in the purchase and protection of more than 700,000 acres of tropical forest and ensures that more than 4 million acres of land is managed under active protection worldwide. The acres WLT ‘sells’ are real acres in real places, but not handed over. The land is always owned and managed by WLT’s Local Partners, experts on land conservation in the countries where they operate.
WLT is responsible for fundraising and overseeing the project in the early stages and the local organization works with the local community to achieve the conservation goals. The villa eugénie donation will help protecting land in Colombia.
The Ocean Cleanup
The Ocean Cleanup fights to rid of the world’s oceans of plastic. Their passive drifting system has been designed to do the hard job of concentrating plastic debris at the surface of the ocean, before they can be effectively removed from it. It consists of a long floater that relies on natural forces to navigate the garbage patches. It is designed to capture plastic ranging from small pieces just millimeters in size up to large debris, including massive discarded fishing nets.
Plastic will ultimately be recycled and transformed into feedstock for new durable products, anticipating the removal of 90% of ocean plastic by 2040. villa eugénie’s second donation in 2020 is contributing to improve the existing system.
Plastic Pollution Coalition
Since 2009, Plastic Pollution Coalition raises awareness about single-use plastic and its toxic effects on our health, environment and ocean.
PPC’s The Last Plastic Straw program encourages policy change, providing businesses around the world with clear guidelines on how to adopt a ‘straws upon request only’ protocol. Outreach and education efforts of The Last Plastic Straw include organizing school and community screenings of the documentary short film ‘Straws’ and demonstrating how a simple action has lasting impacts.
villa eugénie’s donation will support educational film screenings and discussions about plastic pollution and society’s disposable culture, while also providing reusable stainless-steel straws to over 5,000 students worldwide.
The Ocean Cleanup
The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit project that develops technology to rid the world of the eight million tons of plastic waste humans dump into the oceans each year. Non-biodegradable plastic causes the deaths of one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals per year, and enter our own food chain through fish and other marine life.
The Ocean Cleanup is creating ‘passive drifting systems’ to combat this manmade global issue - deploying 60 of them, each of 1 kilometer in length at strategic points, utilizing the ocean currents to remove plastic waste.
The first cleanup system was launched mid-2018 - beginning with the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’, an area of floating rubbish between Hawaii and the west coast of North America believed to be twice the size of France. The villa eugénie donation has therefore been supporting the largest cleanup in history.
At the forefront of disaster relief, ShelterBox has resoundingly demonstrated the importance of immediate humanitarian aid through the distribution of custom-made emergency kits. The UK-based charity provides ingenious and handy shelters and essential life-saving supplies to families who have been made homeless by natural and man-made disasters, like those in recent times in the Fiji Islands or Syria.
villa eugénie’s donation contributed to buying twelve robust and water-resistant sturdy green ShelterBoxes for people affected by disaster aftermath. The innovative aid package contains all the relief essentials, including airtight and waterproof tents, thermal blankets, insulating groundsheets, solar lights, water purification units, water carriers, cooking utensils and mosquito nets.
Love Specs is a fundraising arm of Love Support Unite, a charity based in Malawi that provides innovative education, healthcare and skills training, to ensure that disadvantaged children and young adults have the opportunity to survive, grow and succeed. The charity develops long-term solutions, such as the self-sustaining Mkunkhu School, as well as innovative training programs in sustainable farming.
villa eugénie’s support allowed Love Specs to buy seeds and agricultural equipment for the rural Mkunkhu community, and securing a sustainable food project at the local school. The initiative has since been feeding teachers and children suffering from malnutrition, while enabling the community to sell its harvested crops in order to pay the teachers and buy educational tools.
The Anganwadi Project (TAP) is an Australian non-profit association which is committed to creating cost-effective pre-schools (‘anganwadi’) and social buildings in close collaboration with the slum communities of Ahmedabad, India. With the aim of providing state-of-the-art facilities for children in need, TAP recruits and trains architecture and design professionals who volunteer their time and creative skills to build and renovate educational, health and community structures. The anganwadis are made of recycled and sustainable materials, constructed by local workers together with the volunteers.
villa eugénie’s donation allowed TAP to reside three of those volunteers in India and to build Bholu14, a school constructed in the underprivileged Sabarmati community.
Liter of Light
Liter of Light lights up the lives of all those who could use a little hope by providing solar solutions for people with limited or no access to electricity. Using an ingenious, disarmingly simple design, this global open-source movement, initiated by the Philippines based MyShelter Foundation, provides solar bottle lighting to impoverished communities around the world. The sustainable and cost-free solar bottles function like a deck prism – in fact, they are crafted from recycled plastic bottles and filled with a bleach melange that refracts sunlight, delivering about as much light as a 55-watt incandescent bulb to the interior.
villa eugénie helped Liter of Light to develop the project in South Africa, by funding the installation of 4,000 solar bottles in the slums of Cape Town and Johannesburg.
The College of Magic
The College of Magic is a non-profit, public benefit organization based in Cape Town, South Africa, that empowers young adults from various levels of society with the goal of enhancing positive self-esteem through creative magic arts and performance trainings. Based on the notions of respect, self-discipline and creativity, the College of Magic literally makes magic happen by providing more than 200 students with premium educational facilities, such as a theatre, an auditorium, a museum, a library, a media center, and a costume wardrobe.
villa eugénie’s donation funded the registration fee for 20 disadvantaged students to attend magic classes for an entire year.
Giving hope for a better future, one smile at a time – such is the mission of Operation Smile. The U.S. based international medical charity is supported by volunteers dedicated to offering free plastic surgery to disadvantaged youth from more than 60 countries.
The charity provides children and young adults who suffer from cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformities with an exceptional surgical care that facilitates their lives and social integration. Brightening the lives of children in need, Operation Smile has given renewed hope to youth around the world by providing more than 220,000 free surgical procedures, while adhering to the highest standards of care and safety.
villa eugénie’s donation provided 70 children with ‘new smiles’ by funding surgical operations at the Comprehensive Cleft Care Centre in Assam, India.
One Laptop Per Child
Striving to alleviate poverty through education, One Laptop per Child (OLPC) provides disadvantaged children in developing countries with a low-cost and low-power, yet ultra-connected XO laptop. Together with dedicated volunteers from the academic world and tech industry, OLPC has worked to inspire pupils with collaborative, joyful and self-empowered learning, assisted by high-quality hardware, software and custom-made educational content. With access to this type of innovative technical tool, children are engaged in their own education, and able to learn, share and create together with a chance for a better future.
To date, over 2.5 million children and teachers worldwide have already received OLPC's ingenious XO laptops, and villa eugénie’s own donation funded 48 laptops for a primary school in Uruguay.
Excelling in state-of-the-art education solutions, Mobile School is a Belgian organization dedicated to safeguarding the future of street children by engaging with them in innovative teaching activities. Over the years, Mobile School has defied educational challenges by improving literacy and providing creative therapy, health and good hygiene education, drugs and AIDS prevention with the use of custom-made mobile school carts. So far, the 36 mobile school carts – extendable blackboards on wheels with more than 300 educational games – have been distributed in the most underprivileged regions of 21 countries across Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe. In short, for those who cannot attend school, their education can literally come to them, via Mobile School.
The organization has made almost 300,000 therapeutical contacts with street youth across the world, while around 100,000 children and young adults were supplied with the villa eugénie funded ‘Street Business Toolkit’, an educational package on wheels that teaches budget management to the most disadvantaged.
Bali Teak Farm
To combat deforestation, the organic biodynamic teak farming pioneer, Bali Teak Farm (BTF) specializes in cultivating micro plantations while respecting the local natural environment. More than just a charity, BTF is dedicated to the promotion of Balinese heritage by supporting culture conscious tourist developments in rural areas and allowing communities to maintain their traditional lifestyle.
Committed to organic farming and its boundary-pushing impact on the locals, villa eugénie’s contribution enabled the cultivation of 1000 new trees on a one-hectare plantation leased for a term of 25 years. In addition, villa eugénie has supported the Balinese eco company with a yearly fund since 2010 – an initiative which allows BTF to pay salaries to local villagers, as well as developing a sustainable agricultural expertise in impoverished land areas.
Charity: Water is a non-profit organization which ensures clean drinking water supplies for people in need by funding sustainable, community-owned water projects around the world. This unique NGO also supports self-empowerment by training local communities – principally in Africa, Asia, Central and South America – and working with them to maintain wells, pipelines, biosand filters and rainwater harvesting systems. Ever the pioneers, the members of Charity: Water have successfully funded more than 22 000 projects in 24 countries, providing 7 million people with safe and clean water.
To express its commitment, villa eugénie supported the construction of seven new wells – five in Bangladesh and two in Ethiopia – in doing so helping over 1,200 people.