Dr. Lola Tillyaeva’s charitable work in Uzbekistan showcases the importance of philanthropy for children’s education and healthcare in Central Asia post-Covid
Philanthropy is a force of good that drives development, progress, and welfare in the world. The business acumen, advocacy work, and financial reach of philanthropists are particularly needed in times of crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic, and its long recovery period, is no exception.
More than two years after the first case of COVID-19 was detected, the disease is still damaging lives all over the world. According to UNICEF, COVID-19 has affected children at an unprecedented scale as the number of children living without access to education, health, and housing soared to approximately 1.3 billion in 2021 alone. Even in a best-case scenario, the organisation reports that it will take up to eight years to return to pre-COVID child poverty levels. Recovering from Covid’s setbacks globally will require the work of all sectors of society, including, charitable organisations and philanthropists.
As the founder of multiple charities and organisations helping underprivileged children, Dr Lola Tillyaeva is a passionate and dedicated philanthropist active in Central Asia. The Former Permanent Delegate of Uzbekistan to UNESCO, is a successful businesswoman, entrepreneur, and founder of three charities and foundations in Uzbekistan. Her philanthropic work will be proving key to children’s lives in Uzbekistan post-COVID. Uzbekistan has faced multiple lockdowns, slowed economic growth, and over 237,000 confirmed cases and 1,600 deaths, according to Worldometer. As nearly anywhere else in the world, Uzbek children have missed out on many valuable hours of education, and in some cases received delayed medical treatments.
Dr. Lola Tillyaeva sits on the Board of the Karimov Foundation, an organisation aimed at promoting education in Uzbekistan and enhancing the profile of Uzbek culture and literature. She is also the founder of the National Centre for the Social Adaptation of Children, which provided medical assistance, therapy, and education free of charge to children with disabilities. Her flagship charity however is the You Are Not Alone Foundation.
Dr. Lola Tillyaeva founded theYou Are Not Alone Foundation alongside her husband and businessman Timur Tillyaev in 2002 to improve the lives of orphaned and abandoned children in Uzbekistan. The organisation initially focused on financing and supporting the construction of orphanages across Uzbekistan, but responding to the growing need, Lola Tillyaeva broadened the organisation’s work to provide qualitymedical care assistance to disabled children and children from disadvantaged families. The foundation also ensures that children receive education, skills training, and opportunities to pursue academic studies in the country.
The foundation’s activities are grounded on the Mercy Homes, which are orphanages that have become the home to hundreds of children over the past 20 years. More than ten Mercy Homes have been renovated and refurbished under the You Are Not Alone Foundation to provide medical, educational, and recreational facilities for vulnerable children. For Lola Tillyaeva the aim of these fully equipped orphanages is to give children “a loving and caring environment” and provide them “with a solid foundation for the future.”
As the foundation expanded its services to underprivileged children, Dr. Lola Tillyaeva secured partnerships with the Ministry of Public Health of Uzbekistan and the Ministry of Public Education of Uzbekistan to ensure regular medical checks are offered to orphaned and underprivileged children. The foundation has been able to distribute crucial medical supplies to hospitals in the country, including humidity cribs, ultrasound machines, life support systems, cardiac monitors, and air purification systems.
In 2015, the foundation initiated a collaboration with the Association La Chaîne de l’Espoir (Chain of Hope), a French organisation, to respond to the growing need for treatment for children with congenital heart diseases. You Are Not Alone Foundation reports that more than 130 children with congenital heart conditions have received medical operations and care through the initiative, bringing French specialist surgeons to Uzbekistan and, in some cases, flying children to France for surgeries.
The educational and skill development initiatives of the You Are Not Alone Foundation are also critical for children’s education following the Covid-19 pandemic in Uzbekistan. The foundation identified that there were many gifted children being brought up in orphanages who risked not achieving their full potential due to a lack of parental support in their studies and development. As a result, Dr. Lola Tillyaeva and the You Are Not Alone Foundation created the Educational Center in 2003 to provide quality education, prepare children for entrance exams, and secure funding for higher education for talented students. Students are also given the opportunity to develop their creative and professional skills by dancing, singing, and painting classes and IT, public speaking, and debating initiatives.
Since its foundation, the Educational Center has worked with more than 2,500 vulnerable children and over 240 You Are Not Alone graduates have advanced on to higher education in some of Uzbekistan’s most prestigious institutions. The most talented students even receive the opportunity to study at some of the world’s most prestigious universities through a scholarship program sponsored by Dr Lola Tillyaeva and Timur Tillyaev. Between 2017 and 2021, over 50 Uzbek students have received full scholarships to study in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and many other countries. The scholarship program not only gives students the opportunity to enrich their academic and professional skillsets but also contributes to Uzbekistan’s long-term economic growth and development as, upon their return, students bring a wide range of skills to contribute to key sectors in Uzbekistan, from renewable energy and chemistry to tourism and travel services.