Each Christmas for the past 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 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 will be launched by 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 will therefore support 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.