Anastasiya Shkurko

We all day dream sometimes, and for us the dream can be close to reality … However, for those children around the world who are living in poverty, such dreams are much further away.
The Save the Children organization focuses on protecting underprivileged children against exploitation and injustice. Therefore, St. Andrews Save the Children has been focusing on funding, raising awareness about the millions of affected children, as well as locally volunteering at primary schools.
As a way of raising money to provide the children with school books, nutritional foods and shelter, Anastasiya (the President of the St. Andrews chapter) will be skydiving.
So let's open our eyes and take flight together to turn all dreams into reality!..

The 21 year old Anastasiya studies Management in University of St. Andrews in Scotland, UK. Anastasiya was born and raised in Siberia, Russia, but currently lives in New Jersey, US where she returns to her family and friends during the holidays. Her passion is traveling, since it is a way to explore the diversity and wonders of our countries …
We ask Anastasiya about her extraordinary decision to raise £500 for Save the Children.

– What did your project start with?
– Two years ago, I became involved with the organization at the university. They are an international charity called Save the Children (STC), who help protect children's rights and try to improve their living conditions. In April of last year, I became the President and have been heavily involved with fundraising for them.
In the past we have done collective events but this time I came across the skydiving idea.
– Children from what countries do you assist?
– The children are of all variety, STC has an office in many countries, so they try to help out locally. This year their focus is on Afghanistan, where they try to get child soldiers off of the streets and into classrooms. Afghanistan is supposed to be one of the poorest countries. One in four children dies before their 5th birthday alone and 9 million in the whole world. They also assist in emergencies, such as the Haiti Earthquake, so all of the money raised during such appeals goes straight to providing aid for them.
For malnourished children, they can tell by wrapping a measuring tape and if it is below a certain number, they give them nutritional packets called Plumpy’Nut, which consist of 500 calories.
– What collective events took place before?
– Collective events would be bake sales, so the members of the society bake goods and we sell them outside of the library.
We organized a Halloween Party where we all dressed up and had the venue decorated and played Halloween type games and gave out prizes. We were able to raise £120.
We are currently working on a Deal or No Deal show! We are all looking forward to it!
– How did you become STC president?
– It is a very funny story, I actually barely even made it unto the committee the first year, but I was so determined that I was able to hold out on the last spot.
During second year, the previous president was leaving and I stepped up to the plate. You needed to have the majority of the vote from the committee and be able to generate enthusiasm and organize events.
It's a society where imagination must take over in creating these fundraisers and the committee had faith in me!
– Does it entail responsibility to occupy such a position?
– Of course, you must keep in touch with 4 different branches of this organization, create ideas for fundraisers, organize meeting and so on. My mentor from the UK branch just supports me. She never set limits to how much needs to be raised or what we have to do. Everything comes down to my vision of where the society should be heading. Much of responsibilities are dependent on the member’s creations as well.
– What are the objectives for this organization?
– Our objectives are to raise awareness about the devastating conditions that the children are living in as well as provide funds for them. For example, the Plumpy’Nut packet (high-protein, high-energy bar) is only £1, so £7 will feed one child for a week. We also volunteer with the children locally, where we play games with them after school.
– Have you had individual projects before?
– In our university society there were not. But our university itself has many individuals fundraising to do marathons (my friend raised £1500), or racing to Paris (a race between many groups of students to raise money for charity on their way to Paris from Scotland without paying for any transportation).
The students are keen to do different things, and I think that is what inspired me as well.
– What do you need for the skydive?
– I think the most important thing you need for the skydive is bravery and probably to not be afraid of heights! I am not sure if I have either, yet!
But overall, the process is simple. There is a 30 min introduction and then you are off on the plane at 14,000 ft with a jump to follow! However, in order for the jump to happen, I must raise £500 for Save the Children, so I would really appreciate any sponsors and donations!
– What supports you in this intention?
– I often ask that myself as well. I do have a small fear of heights (especially when I look over a ledge of a tall building), but I feel as though if I can complete this jump then there will be no more fears. Many have done such extreme gestures and it is for charity, which makes it that much more rewarding. It is always amazing to go into the unknown and push your own limits; it is what life is about. Why not and do it.
– How did you come to the idea to jump?
– Recently, I have heard and seen pictures of people skydiving. It seemed inspirational to be able to skydive. And on one of the brochures for STC events, they had such an opportunity. I then thought it would be a great way to fundraise further for STC, as this years target for the society is £700. As much as raising awareness for my society, it is also a personal development.
– What do you feel now, when your decision has already been published and began to receive funds to an account?
– To be honest, it is a mix of emotions. It brings out my creativity, passion and determination as well as some fear (14 000 ft at 120 mph seems too high and too fast!). But I have been given amazing support from family and friends. I have put a lot of effort into the STC Society and now I am able to do something even more personal, and that I will cherish for life. And of course, with everyone knowing there is no turning back! But I would not anyways.
– Do you have a recipe how to cope with fear?
– Yes, it is to face it! It does wonders!
– What do you dream of, when the jump will be left behind?
– What I dream of is for people to not be afraid. Many times we are drowned in such emotions, and are often unaware of our personal powers. And for myself, to be able to express my individuality further. I hope people could see through this dive that anything is possible. That all dreams, whether you are well off or in poverty, can become a reality.

INTERVIEW | Alice Berger
PHOTO | Anastasiya Shkurko
WEBSITE | Save the Children