UPDATE: As mentioned at the bottom of this post, there is an update following my conversation with a representative from Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Due to its length, I’ve made it its own post.
As is always the case, the Uzbek media can be counted on to bring enlightening and groundbreaking coverage on the most pressing issues of the day.
Fund Forum started to sell T-shirts of charity forum-marathon “In the Name of Life” on 16 April 2012. The marathon will take place in Tashkent on 1 May. The fund said that it sold 500 T-shirts on the first day. Buying the T-shirts, people confirm their participation at the forum-marathon.
What kind of marathon might this be? Fund Forum’s website says that these shirts are for the Susan G. Komen Uzbekistan Race for the Cure. And they are not making that up at all. Fund Forum and other NGOs sharing its address and also run by Gulnora Karimov are official partners of the official Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
The agreement was inked in January and quickly followed with a training session in Tashkent. Races have been held in regions and cities throughout Uzbekistan already, with the final race scheduled for Tashkent on May 1.
There is nothing wrong with the goal of these events — encouraging annual mammograms and raising some funds to provide screenings.
However, everything about Gulnora’s charities is questionable. And even with Komen’s recent track record of making strategically poor decisions (for which it is still paying) and its slow transformation into something resembling a consultancy that helps business sell products by slapping some pink ribbons on them, the decision to partner with Gulnora’s organizations seems strange. It is, at best, ignorant and poorly thought out.
It very well may be that Fund Forum and its constellation of Gulnora-led co-tenants at 80 Uzbekistan Street in Tashkent do some good here and there. But for whatever good they might do, one of their most important functions is to paint Gulnora as a glamorous, cultured, talented, educated, respected philanthropist. The first link on Fund Forum’s website is to Gulnora’s personal page. Scattered among stories on the various charities’ events in the news section are stories on Gulnora’s glamorous house; her charm, class, beauty, elegance, and caring sensibility; her beauty, charisma, and charitable projects; and, her work organizing Tashkent fashion week.
And now with the association with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Gulnora can pin on an OFFICIAL pink ribbon, so that the public relations work her foundations do for her can show she is not only the most glamorous philanthropist to walk the earth, but also legitimized by a well-known foreign charity as being so.
Note: I have contacted Susan G. Komen for the Cure for comment on their relationship with Fund Forum and Gulnora’s other charities. I will update this story when and if I hear from them.