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Gergana David: Giving Back to the World

2010.03.12 9 коментара

Please see the following Eurochicago.com interview with Gergana David from Turner Broadcasting.  Interviewed by Laura Chukanov (*)

Turner

Gergana’s Bio: Gergana David is a ten year veteran in the cable and satellite distribution business. Gergana joined Turner in September 2002 and has been a true driving force in achieving the rapid growth rate for the proliferation of the company’s portfolio of channels within the region. She is Senior Distribution Director for Central & Eastern Europe and Benelux.
Gergana is responsible for selling (across Eastern and Central Europe and Benelux) the entire Turner family of linear channels: Cartoon Network, TCM, CNN International and Boomerang to DTH and cable operators. Her remit also covers Turner’s new digital media initiatives, dealing with the regions’ IPTV platforms, Telco’s, mobile operators as well as the sale of CNN content to broadcasters.
As a native Bulgarian Gergana attended the French Language School in Sliven, Bulgaria from 1987-1992 and studied at the Bulgarian-Dutch College of Trade, Export and Marketing from 1992-1994. In 1994 she undertook a Marketing and Management Specialisation course in Missouri, USA and went onto successfully complete a Masters in International Economics at the University of National and International Economics in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Gergana’s broadcast career started in 1998 at the Television World Foundation where she was Director of Black Sea Television Market in Sofia, Bulgaria. In July 2000 Gergana was enticed to move to London by thematic television specialists, Zone Vision (now called ChelloZone). Gergana was charged for managing Zone Vision’s largest representation client, Discovery Networks as well as the distribution needs for the Zone’s largest channel, Reality TV.
Gergana (nee Karadjova) enjoys spending time with her family – she has a 5 year old son and a 2 year old daughter. She regularly thinks about working out at the gym but rarely achieves it! She likes to cook and travel as much as possible, (preferred destination is her native Bulgaria, and New Zealand where her husband comes from) and never says no to a shopping trip!

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Laura Chukanov: Gergana, you are inspiring so many people because of your passion for helping people who have nothing in the world. How does this make you feel? Do you want to see more people doing what you are doing?

Gergana David: It is extremely rewarding to give something back – I live a privileged life and helping others who have nothing at all really makes me happy. In particular children – I have two young kids myself and seeing the way kids live in Africa is really heartbreaking. I wish that more people feel the same way. I am definitely going to do more and try to educate as many people as I can about the hardships people go through. It costs very little to help. All of us who were in Rwanda are now going to sponsor a child, the minimum contribution is just ₤12 a month. We do this with the help of Plan International, who for more than 10 years have been involved with children sponsorship in Africa. While in Rwanda we met kids that have been sponsored and we have seen what a massive difference that makes to their lives.

What advice would you give to a young person who wants to follow in your footsteps?

My advice would be to try to do something good every day – no mater how small, even small things can make people very happy. I think charity is about helping individuals and personally contributing to make a positive change in their lives.

Do you feel that as an immigrant to England you have had any sort of disadvantage? Your position at Turner Broadcasting says the opposite, however I know that in the United States if an immigrant reaches your level of success it is usually after a long period of struggling to succeed. How did you get to where you are now and who helped you the most along the way?

I finished the French Language School in Sliven and after that I graduated from the University of National and World Economy in Sofia. I started my career in the media field in Bulgaria – I was involved in the media events, which take place in Albena every year. There I met representatives of ChelloZone (formerly Zone Vision) who invited me to work in the London office as a marketing and distribution assistant in 2000. In September 2002 I was offered another job – this time with Turner Broadcasting. I have been with the company ever since.  Currently I am the Senior Distribution Director for Central and Eastern Europe and Benelux.

Turner Broadcasting offers a very friendly and supportive working environment. Nationality does not really matter as long as you are good at what you do. I wouldn’t say anything new probably but when you are determined to succeed, work really hard, and also when you have the passion for what you do, it always pays back.

During your stay in Rwanda, were any of the local people talking about the past?

The Rwandese are extremely positive and optimistic people. Only 16 years after the terrible civil war and the genocide the two ethnic groups Tutsi and Hutu have put the past behind them and are very optimistic about their future despite the dire poverty in the country. Many Rwandese live on just $ 1.5 a day. Life is extremely difficult due to malaria, AIDS and systemic malnutrition.

It was not easy for me to come to terms with many of the things I saw there. During our time in the Gatsibo region we visited the local community and met some of the children and adults who live there. I was so sad to see a family of 5 children with the oldest one looking after the younger ones – he was a child himself being just 13 years old! Unfortunately this is not uncommon – the average life expectancy is 55 years and also as a result of the genocide many children have been orphaned and now live in child-headed households.

I saw so many malnourished kids. Their families can afford to have only one meal a day – it usually consists of corn, potatoes, avocado, bananas and some milk from the village cow. Meat is not part of their diet – it is served only once a year and that is for Christmas!

The children from the village have to walk between 5 and 7 km each way every day to go to school – it is hard to believe because it is so hot and humid and most of them don’t even have shoes! Despite all that the kids are extremely happy that they have a school in the community. Unfortunately, not all children in Rwanda can afford to attend school. Although education is free, parents still have to pay  ₤120 a year for notebooks and a uniform per child.

How did the people of Rwanda respond to your humanitarian visit?

The local Rwandese gave us such a warm welcome! The people of Rwanda are extremely nice and are proud to be citizens of their country. I was touched by their hospitality and openness.
On our arrival in the Rubona Primary School (the Gatsibo region) we were welcomed by the school principle, the local Mayor, the Chief of Police and a representative from the Army. Before we started working on the building site the school entertained us with some traditional Rwandan dancing and tribal music, which we enjoyed very much!
During the week while we were there when it was pouring down with rain and our group couldn’t work on the construction site, we spent time teaching English to the children in the school and sang many songs with them. The most popular one was “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”. We also visited other places built with donations from the charity organization Plan International. The children in one of the schools told us how happy they were that they had a real school. Just a year ago these same kids were having their classes under the trees nearby.

The local community is very grateful for our help and support.

Did the local people help with the construction of the school as well?

The main builders on the construction site of the Rubona School were actually local Rwandese. Our group was performing mainly supportive tasks – making, stacking and carrying the heavy bricks, shovelling sand from the foundations, carrying water and concrete. We were lucky because we had proper gear – we were wearing steeltoe cap boots and helmets. Our group left all these things behind for the builders to use after we were gone.

I am currently involved with a non-profit organization that donates art supplies to kids all over the world. I believe that giving children an opportunity to express themselves through art is a wonderful healing process. Did you see any of that in Rwanda?

Congratulations to you and it is great to hear that you are involved in such a nice project! No, I am afraid I haven’t seen this in Rwanda. Most of the kids hardly had any notebooks and pens – simple things like that are actually a big luxury.

What is your opinion of young people in Bulgaria?

I have been living in London for almost 10 years now and although we often go to Bulgaria, I try to spend quality time with my family and friends and do not get to meet many young people. But overall, I think that the young people in Bulgaria are not much different to the other countries. It is great that nowadays young Bulgarians can afford to travel and therefore be exposed and consume different cultures and embrace the world.

How do you think we can get more young people in Bulgaria involved with humanitarian efforts on a local level?

I think this should be initiated first in the family and then reinforced by the local schools. We live in a world when many disasters happen every day and people need help. The poverty I have seen is hard to explain and if all of us make a small effort to make the world a better place, we can really make a change.

That is why it is extremely important to bring up the kids with the knowledge of what they have and what other kids may not be as lucky to have. As a parent I feel responsible for my kids to be able to give back, be generous and be aware of the world that we live in. I am very happy that in their school charity project are being organized on a regular basis.

Gergana, thank you so much for being an inspiration! Good luck with everything you do!

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(*) Laura Chukanov’s Bio

LauraChukanovLaura was born in Sofia, Bulgaria and moved to the United States with her family in 1990.  Laura was Miss Utah USA 2009 and was awarded third runner up at the 2009 Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada.  A few years ago Laura had the opportunity to work for a non-profit organization focused on helping children in Guatemala.  She is currently involved with an organization that donates art supplies to kids all over the world.  Laura received a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and hopes to receive a master’s degree in journalism.  The latest humanitarian project Laura was involved with was a benefit concert organized by One Heart Bulgaria, an organization focused on meeting the needs of Bulgarian Orphans, for more information about the benefit concert – link.

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