Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva is a prominent philanthropist and former Permanent Delegate of Uzbekistan to UNESCO.
Her flagship charities work with disadvantaged children and she also champions environmental causes. Fostering interethnic harmony through promoting cultural understanding is of paramount importance to her.
Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva was born in 1978 in Uzbekistan. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in International Law from the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent, and later received a doctorate degree in Psychology from Tashkent State University. From 2008 to 2018 she served as Uzbekistan’s envoy to UNESCO, and currently heads three major charitable organizations in Uzbekistan.
Dr. Karimova-Tillyaeva has always adhered firmly to her belief that education, culture and sports are key factors in promoting peace and tolerance, and function as a bridge between civilizations, helping to overcome ignorance and stereotypes.
Her first charity, the You Are Not Alone Foundation, was set up in 2002 to help severely underprivileged children. The Foundation provides funding for the overhaul of Mercy Homes (orphanages) as well as offering a wide range of support facilities to the children who grow up there, eventually helping them take their place as balanced adults in society. The Foundation has backed several major renovation, refurbishing and construction projects throughout Uzbekistan, making sure the orphanages are equipped with first rate educational and medical facilities as well as comfortable, healthy living conditions.
The Foundation also funds medical treatment of children from orphanages and low-income families, including surgery grants for children with serious medical conditions. Since July 2015, it has partnered with the French Association La Chaîne de l’Espoir (Chain of Hope) to offer specialist advice and treatment to children with congenital heart diseases.
Realising that some children need more specialised facilities, in 2004 Mrs Karimova-Tillyaeva founded the National Centre for the Social Adaptation of Children, a charitable organization which provides medical and educational assistance to children with disabilities. The NCSAC works in close collaboration with the representative offices of UNICEF, UNESCO, UNDP and the EU in Uzbekistan.
To date, the charity has helped over 7,500 children aged between 1 and 18 with special needs, including children suffering from cerebral palsy, speech delay, autism, Down syndrome, as well as children with other learning disabilities.
Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva has spearheaded the rise of gymnastics in Uzbekistan and championed gender equality in sport. In 2005, she founded the Gymnastics Federation of Uzbekistan (GFU) which raised the profile of Uzbek gymnastics internationally.
Mrs. Karimova-Tillyaeva acted as President of the GFU from 2005 until her resignation earlier this year. During that time, gymnastics centres have been launched throughout the country and sportswomen from Uzbekistan’s regional gymnastic schools currently account for 70% of the national rhythmic gymnastics team. Uzbek gymnasts have won several gold, silver and bronze medals at various Asian Games and Championships while the overall calibre of the GFU was recognised by the International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG) who in 2018 placed Uzbekistan sixth in the top 10 national federations.
In recognition of her contribution to the development and promotion of gymnastics in Asia, in December 2010, the General Assembly of the Asian Gymnastics Union (AGU) elected Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva as its Honorary President, and in December 2016, she was awarded the International Olympic Committee’s “Women and Sport” diploma in recognition of her achievements and contribution to promoting gender equality in sport.
In 2016, Mrs. Karimova-Tillyaeva established her third charitable organisation, the Karimov Foundation. The Foundation actively promotes Uzbekistan’s historical, cultural and literary heritage and operates programmes both in Uzbekistan and abroad. It has already launched a number of successful projects including scholarship grants for study abroad, art exhibitions, promotion of traditional handicrafts and translations of Uzbek literature.
The Karimov Foundation has recently signed a partnership agreement with the UNESCO Office in Uzbekistan on joint cooperation in the areas of education, science and culture.
Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva has long been a champion for the environment. Aware of the growing urgency of climate change and particularly concerned about the state of one of humanity’s most vital resources, water, in 2017 she instigated the Droplet project to harness the inspirational, evocative power of art to rally people around this cause. The Droplet is a walk-in, multi-sensory installation intended to serve as a platform for debates on pressing environmental issues and will tour extensively to raise awareness and trigger discussions on local as well as global water-related topics.
In March 2018 Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva was made a Dame of the Royal Order of Francis I, an organisation internationally recognised for its significant contribution to humanitarian and charitable initiatives, as well as its role in promoting interfaith dialogue.
Organizations founded by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva
The You Are Not Alone Foundation
Founded by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva in 2002, the You Are Not Alone Foundation is a charitable organization committed to improving the lives of orphaned and abandoned children by providing them with high standards of care and opportunities for a better future through education and skills, as well as vital access to quality medical care and psychological support. The charity’s primary goals are to ensure that children left without parental care grow up in a caring and loving environment, help to unlock children’s potential by providing them with an all-round education and prepare children for independent life, encouraging them to become self-reliant, confident and emotionally stable young adults.
The foundation has initiated and implemented several large-scale projects, building, renovating and refurbishing a number of Mercy Homes (orphanages) in Uzbekistan, providing them with the facilities and conditions children need to live, grow and receive a solid education.
From 2010 to 2015 the You Are Not Alone Foundation carried out renovation and refurbishment work in: the Muruvvat orphanage for children with disabilities in Tashkent; the Tashkent orphanage for children under the age of three; Chirchik Mercy Home (orphanage) No. 14 and Samarkand Mercy Home No. 10. The foundation has equipped these charitable institutions with modern furniture and advanced facilities, thanks to which the children can live and study in comfort. In 2011, the Kibray orphanage for children with severe learning disabilities was equipped with new furniture and other necessities.
The foundation has also overseen major relocation projects for Tashkent Mercy Home No. 23 and Samarkand Mercy Home No. 6, thanks to which these two orphanages now enjoy brand new premises built and furnished by the You Are Not Alone Foundation.
The organization puts education at the heart of most of its projects, which seek to have a meaningful and sustained impact on children’s lives.
An Educational Centre working under the charity seeks to motivate children raised in orphanages towards higher academic standards and better overall behaviour and attendance and to help develop a positive attitude towards schooling, as well as to prepare them for entrance examinations in lyceums, colleges and universities.
In partnership with the National Centre for the Social Adaptation of Children (NCSAC), the You Are Not Alone charitable foundation also provides medical, educational and financial assistance to disabled children and children from disadvantaged families, as well as to gifted children who have insufficient opportunities for development.
The foundation also provides funding for the treatment of children from orphanages and low-income families, including surgery grants for children with serious medical conditions.
It arranges regular medical checks for children living in Mercy Homes.
The National Centre for the Social Adaptation of Children
The National Centre for the Social Adaptation of Children (NCSAC) is a charitable organization founded by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva in 2004 to provide assistance in the areas of diagnosis, orthopaedic and neurological treatment, speech therapy and education to children with disabilities.
There is no other charity in Central Asia dedicated to providing such an extensive range of services to children with special needs.
The charity strives to make a real, positive difference to the lives of children and to offer vital support to their families and carers, with the goal of helping disabled children to attain their full potential.
Dedicated professional staff – speech therapists, special educators, psychologists, neurologists, therapeutic exercise specialists, orthopaedic surgeons, masseurs, sign-language teachers and art therapists – draw up individual development programmes for every child who comes to the centre. These programmes are tailored to fit every child’s needs on the basis of his or her current strength and agreed priority areas of development.
To date, over 7,500 children with disabilities or signs of stunted growth have benefited from services provided by the charity.
The centre is fitted with the latest equipment for the functional recovery of children suffering from musculoskeletal disorders; a Lokomat treadmill, Solostep physical therapy devices, and standing frames all undoubtedly increase the effectiveness of the treatment offered.
The charity provides wheelchairs, prostheses and hearing devices for children who receive therapy at the centre.
Promoting effective, quality education for disabled children is another important area of the charity’s work, so the Centre helps disabled children enrol in public schools while also developing educational materials for them.
The charity also provides assistance – including counselling and financial help – to parents of disabled children, with special focus on supporting women marginalized and victimized by their husbands and families because of their child’s condition.
One of the charity’s uppermost priorities is to extend its work to Uzbekistan’s regions. Branches of the charity are now up and running in Samarkand (central Uzbekistan) and Ferghana (eastern Uzbekistan).
The Karimov Foundation
(Ms Karimova-Tillyaeva is the chair of the Board of Trustees of the Karimov Foundation.)
The Karimov Foundation operates programmes both in Uzbekistan and abroad with the goal of promoting Uzbekistan’s historical, cultural and literary heritage.
The foundation plays a key role in providing access to educational opportunities for young people from Uzbekistan through merit-based scholarships awarded in various academic disciplines and fields of study. The scholarships awarded enable advanced students to pursue their education at some of the best universities both in Uzbekistan and abroad.
The organization also allocates grants to support both individual researchers and research projects being carried out by institutions to promote areas of education, culture and science in Uzbekistan.
The foundation supports programmes aimed at enhancing the visibility of Uzbek authors and promoting Uzbek literature globally by granting financial assistance for the translation of works of both classical and contemporary literature.
With a view to fostering and strengthening intercultural exchange and creating prosperity for local communities by celebrating traditional art, centuries-old skills and manufacturing techniques, the organization provides direct financial assistance to artisan groups who are keeping Uzbekistan’s centuries-old, exquisite craft traditions alive.
With the goal of raising the profile of Uzbek contemporary visual arts, fostering a national school of art and encouraging public appreciation of and interest in cultural matters, the foundation backs exhibitions, educational debates and other cultural events both inside the country and abroad.
The foundation also provides grants for documentaries, features, films and programmes that will address issues related to Uzbekistan’s history, literature, culture and arts.
The organization is involved in book-publishing activities with the primary focus on works exploring various themes related to Uzbekistan’s history, traditions, arts, literature and other manifestations of the intellectual achievements of the Uzbek people.
In collaboration with its partner organization, the You Are Not Alone charitable organization, the Karimov Foundation supports programmes focusing on improving the lives of vulnerable orphans and children with disabilities in Uzbekistan, helping them to realize their full potential and ensuring that their rights are upheld and respected.
Ms Karimova-Tillyaeva is the visionary behind The Harmonist, a recently-launched maison de parfums inspired by the ancient Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui. The new brand offers 11 signature scents, which reflect the dual nature of Yin and Yang, the traditional Chinese concept of empowering your inner self and your whole body by bringing it into harmony with the world around you. Created by a well-known French perfumer using the finest natural ingredients from around the world, the sophisticated signature scents embody the five elements regarded as the building blocks of all natural phenomena – metal, fire, earth, water and wood. The Harmonist’s first boutique debuted in Paris in February 2016 followed by a store in Los Angeles which was launched in March the same year.
In accordance with the brand’s philosophy, The Harmonist is committed to sponsoring philanthropic causes aimed at developing effective solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, such as providing clean and safe drinking water in developing countries, ensuring the durability of clean water sources, increasing community awareness about water conservation and developing training materials for education about sanitation and hygiene.