30 Years of EERO
EERO is a registered Canadian charity with the mission of supporting health, education and communities in Estonia. Fundraising activities over the past 30 years include Kuldsüdamete ball (with AKEN), Baltic Walkathon (with Latvians and Lithuanians), EEROpakk and Rannakohvik (with AKEN and EERK), Movie night – Elavad pildid, and ESTOstyle fashion show (with VEMU) at the ROM and Tartu College. The most successful fundraising activity was EEROpakk.
The Canadian government funded several programs through EERO: the Medical Doctor exchange, the Teacher exchange, Dental exchange and the first multi-discliplinary conference on stress, which resulted in the printing of stress guides in both Estonian and Russian. The donation of a fully equiped ambulance from the province of Ontario was facilitated by a legacy donation and directed to Hiiumaa, the donation of a mammogram to Pärnu was coordinated with the Pärnumaalaste Selts, and donations of other specialized equipment was purchased in Estonia for institutions specified by donors such as drugs for Häädemeeste clinic, antibiotics to several hospitals in Tallinn, a photocopier for Saaremaa gümnaasium, a walking robot to enable children at Tallinn Children’s hospital, mechanical tools and equipment for trade schools, psychology and anatomy texts, and many other items. By 1994 the shipment of goods was discontinued, as Estonian supply chains were established, thereafter cash donations enabled the local purchase of equipment or services ensuring training of staff and warranties applied when needed. Excluding Canadian and Ontario government support, EERO has supported health, education and communities in Estonia for a total 2.2 million dollars, and about half of this has gone to the Tallinn Children’s Hospital.
As Estonia progressed, EERO adjusted to the changing needs in Estonia. In the early years only 3 agreements were needed to operate in Estonia: the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Community and Social Services. Today EERO has numerous agreements with organizations in Estonia: Tallinn Children’s Hospital Foundation, Tartu Children’s Fund, Patarei, Tallinn Technical University, Haapsalu Orphanage, Kihnu Church, Cancer Treatment Fund- Gift of Life, Estonian Women’s League, Rotalia Fund and many others.
Donations vary from year to year and during the past 2-3 years donations have dropped for most charities by about 40%. This year is a unique year and many of us face challenges, several organizations were forced to cancel or postpone anniversaries, families have postponed celebrations and everyday activities have become more complicated with social distancing, masks and limits to social gatherings.
In 2020 EERO initiated a Children’s Fund to support children in dire need of support and forged an agreement with the Estonian Women’s League to act as their agent in Estonia. This meant that the Women’s League would identify children in need of support and recommend how to support them. At Küünlapäev in February, members of sororities donated a total of $200 to the Children’s Fund. Due to the pandemic, many things were delayed in Estonia, as they were in Canada. However finally by September EERO approved the Women’s League request to support women and children transitioning from shelters to independent living in Pärnu and Tartu, as many were living in poverty and had several children to support. Donations to date have been transferred to Estonia and have already helped 9 women (2 from Saaremaa and 7 from Pärnumaa) and 21 children. Items purchased include: firewood for heating, winter boots and jackets, and food. The total monthly income for these women (including child support and financial assistance) range from 600 to 900 euros ($929-1,390CAD) and the number of children varies from 1 to 5 per family. EERO hopes that donors continue to support the Children’s Fund and another transfer of several thousand dollars by year end will be possible.
Recently EERO received wonderful news that AKEN has decided to support the Tartu Women’s shelter. In December 2020, the Estonian Relief Committee in New York donated over $6,000 USD to support this project and hope further donations will follow. Therefore, plans are to expand the pilot project to other cities in Estonia, EERO will direct future donations to other shelters in either in Haapsalu, Valga, Võru or Viljandi based on recommendations from the Estonian Women’s League.
EERO has granted a stipend each year since 1992 to an engineering student at Tallinn Technical University. While the name of the stipend was initially the Manivald Eelnurme Mälestusfond, it was changed to the EERO TalTech Stipend as the original legacy donation is exhausted. The original donation was $10,000 and the value of the stipend is now 6 times more than initially grant to students.
In April 2020 the EERO Board agreed to grant the EERO TalTech stipend to Kristo Toots. Kristo is 22 years old and from Tallinn. He graduated from the Kristiine Gümnaasium with a gold medal and is studying robotics at TTÜ and currently has a 4.84 weighted average. In his spare time he plays guitar, lifts weights and hikes. In his application Kristo stated that with the Unsinkable Robotics team, which grew out of the TalTech Robotics Club, “I am building a submarine robot to inspect shipping berths and offshore wind turbines, as well as check fish farms and make repairs. I plan to build a lifesaving drone with the help of the coast guard, which will provide aid to victims faster. I believe such a tool would help save lives.” EERO hopes that Kristo’s prototypes are successful and wishes him all the best.
This has been a busy year for the communications team as we developed our website www.EEROcanada.com and this took endless hours to select pictures, draft wording, translate and technically implement. Many thanks to the hard work of Annika and Sirje Lautens. The website is still being refined, but is scheduled to launch December 1st, 2020. It provides an overview of our past and current projects, past events, how to donate and links to several organizations that we support in Estonia. We hope you visit us and like it. Unfortunately, we were unable to find any pictures of the EEROpakk events and for some reason have not taken any pictures of our Board of Directors, but you may find some interesting projects and events – it’s a great way to stay connected both locally and internationally. If you would like to volunteer and get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks to our supporters! Stay Safe and Enjoy the Holidays.
Mari Ann Tammark
EERO TalTech stipend winner Kristo Toots.