By Asen Nedyalkov and Monika Obracaj
The idea for the first alliance for international business with a Bulgarian connection is linked to the mission of creating a community, uniting all Bulgarians around the world so that we can create, work and build a future with common resources, effortlessly achieving our professional and personal goals. Elysium Business Magazine, in its role of the official IBA.Bulgaria media, also supports this idea by telling the stories of our successful compatriots, their professional environment and network in the fields of culture, business, entrepreneurship and many other inspiring stories.
In this line of thought, we would like to introduce you to a similar initiative, which also manages to unite an entire nation, both within and beyond the borders of the country. An example of the brilliant accomplishment of such a valiant mission is the Polish public benefit organisation – the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity Foundation (briefly the GOCC Foundation). Its main mission is to support public health care by investing in an equipment for Polish hospitals and clinics, focusing on children’s medicine including children’s cardiac surgery, oncology, nephrology, modern methods of diagnosis and treatment in neonatology and pediatrics and many more.
Every year since its foundation in 1993, GOOC is organising and funding five medical programs, addressing specific health needs of newborns and children, as well as a national cardio-pulmonary first aid school training initiative. In 2018, in honor of the annual European day Restart a Heart on October 16, GOOC set a world record for the most people to provide first aid at the same time – 116 342 participants performed CPR on 7 465 dummies during events supported by 1 155 organisations!
The culmination of the charity activities of GOCC comes every year, during a Sunday in January, when the foundation organises the Grand Final, in honor of which “the orchestra plays both in Poland and across the world.” Undoubtedly, the event is an unique example of how an unity and one common noble goal can lead to amazing results. We can rarely see, even at international level, an example of such gracious humanity.
Each January, only within 1 day, more than 1,700 Charity Centers mobilise more than 120,000 volunteers to organise events within the country and all around the world where unified Polish communities exist – Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, America, on board of Polish ships and even at the North Pole Research Center! Undoubtedly, this event is a unique example of the power possessed by people when they are united and strive together to transform the life they share for the better. The numbers and achievements of the organisation speak for themselves.
During the 27th Grand Final in 2019, GOCC managed to raise PLN 160,000,000, which is equal to EUR 40,000,000! The raised charity funds were spent during the traditional for the organisation annual Open Tender, when representatives of the foundation, headed by President Jurek Owsiak, meet with medical experts and select the equipment to be purchased. As a result, in 2019 alone, the GOCC donated 15 X-ray generators, 9 MRI machines, 13 CT scanners, 9 cardiac monitors and 9 anesthesiology machines for MRI examination rooms at various hospitals and medical centers in Poland. It is interesting to note that the main legal obligation to use the donated devices is to make them free and easily accessible to those who need them. Enlightening, right?
Apart for being one of the largest charities in Europe, the GOCC Grand Final is also a unique social and cultural event, which encourages anyone who wishes to help the cause to create a Collection Center or volunteer at one of them. The special day is also a unique context to support local artists, sports companies and businesses. Volunteers raising money on the streets of numerous points in Poland and Europe, GOCC Stationary Collection Boxes at key venues in countless cities, charity concerts of Polish and international bands, meeting with artists and vloggers, marathon involving 5,000 participants in Warsaw, charity auctions, online donations, social games and meetings and many more unifying and intriguing events. The culmination of the Grand Final happens in Warsaw and ends with the exclusive audio-visual show “Light to the Sky” in the city center! The large-scale event is broadcasted on all possible media channels – television, YouTube, social networks and many more.
If all that has been said still has not convinced you that together is the only way to create a better future, I will also mention another figure: over the 27 years of the existence of the Foundation, more than 1 000 000 000 PLN have been collected / EUR 250 000 000/. In support of the remarkable example of a truly effective charity, the GOCC Foundation is organising in the honor of all of the initiative’s supporters the largest free, open music festival in Europe – Pol’And’Rock. The team of Elysium had the privilege to visit this year’s 25th anniversary edition of the event.
Given the scale of the organisation, no one would be surprised by the fact that the festival is attended by nearly 1,000,000 people every year. In fact, in 1993, a special edition of the legendary Woodstock Festival, which celebrated 25 years since the first edition of the event, took place and became the role model of Pol’And’Rock, which beared the name of its American inspiration until 2 years ago. Just like the original Woodstock, the three days of Pol’and’Rock become a reality thanks to the volunteers who support every part of the festival. An event organised by the people, for the people.
The music festival spans accross 5 huge stages, which featured this year Ziggy Marley, DubFX, Prophets of Rage, Happysad, Kult and many other legendary international and Polish artists. During the 25 years history of Pol’And’Rock, numerous performers have left their mark on the epic stages, including Gojira, Goo Goo Dolls, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, In Flames, Arch Enemy, Judas Priest, Ziggy Marley, Trivium, Slaves, Nothing but Thieves, Lordi, Crystal Fighters, Amon Amarth and many more.
The Elysium team was impressed by the organisation of the festival, creating pure magic during 3 days – an example of united people, not only from Poland, but from all over Europe. In these 3 days they find refuge from the worries of their daily routine in the music paradise emerging in Kostrzyn, western Poland. Pol’And’Rock is a complete metropolis – a sea of tents and waves of people, music stages, meeting with artists and celebrities from the cultural life of Poland, numerous shops and bars for drinks and food, bungee, festival parade, Hare Krishna manifestation, a zone for meditation, inflatable water slides, snow machines, team games and many more exciting ways to spend your time.
The festival days are also marked by the compelling, colorful and touching opening and closure ceremonies. Half an hour before Ziggy Marley, who opened this year’s anniversary edition, GOCC’s President Jurek Owsiak welcomed the visitors of Pol’And’Rock with a concert performed by Polish music schools and a dizzying experience of air shows, smoke and colors. Despite the relentless heat, the large crowd was electrified by what was happening on stage and erupted in a breathtaking dance following the first notes played by Ziggy Marley’s band. The cloture of the festival, in the early hours of Day 4, was once again celebrated with Jurek Owsiak, who expressed gratitude to all of the volunteers by inviting them on the big stage to receive their well-deserved applauses. Following this moving tradition, the GOCC president presented the organisation’s achievements for the previous year, as well as the next charity goals, accompanied by the angelic sound of a children’s choir. I promise you that this is an unforgettable moment.
This is how one charitable cause and the care for the health of future generations can become an initiative that, within its borders, involves supporting and developing of not only the healthcare but also the culture and social life of a nation. Polish citizens from all over the world come together on a single day, building a tradition which speaks to each one of us on numerous levels. When the Elysium team was accredited as a Pol’And’Rock’s media partner, we were expecting to discover a memorable music event, but we were extremely impressed that we actually entered an entire world which knows not only how to celebrate culture, but also thinks, helps, exists and grows as one whole. A true example of the strength of a community, human kindness and love for life.