Wins of Caring for Others – ISR Community Support to the Pink Train Foundation

By Liene Salmiņa interviewing Aija Zandberga


Being a caring community ISR has been engaged in different charity activities developing empathy among community members in different ways. The month of May has been for many years now the month of the Pink Train Foundation (PTF) and Riga Marathon for ISR, and Ms. Aija Zandberga agreed to tell why and how ISR became a big supporter of the charity foundation which supports women with a breast cancer diagnosis.

The Pink Train Foundation was founded way back in 2014 by Zinta Uskale, at that time Admissions and Officer manager at ISR. She, herself was diagnosed with breast cancer and was suffering quite a lot after surgeries to treat breast cancer, to receive professional help and she learned there are many women in Latvia in a similar situation; it motivated her to raise funds so that people diagnosed with breast cancer in Latvia can receive professional, psychological support and physiotherapy. Different activities throughout years have shaped society’s attitude and openness towards uncomfortable topics like breast cancer – thanks to the PTF who started to speak out loud in public about this and made the society more aware of it.


ISR has always appreciated and supported the community and tried to take care of every member in it as best as possible; that’s where the roots of supporting Zinta and the PTF comes from. Zinta still appreciates and feels blessed that the school continues to support the Pink Train initiatives and events by participation in, e.g., the Riga Marathon, Pink day at the school and monetary donations towards the foundation.

This year was different, Covid-19 restrictions impacted the foundation activities as well. Despite challenges and difficulties some ISR members have continued to support the PTF with participating and coming up with different activities: doing any sport’s activity for 42 seconds or minutes; giving an online music concert for 42 minutes, running or walking 42k in a month. As we see, this year was both challenging and creative. There has to be a balance between asking and giving though. The PTF depends on donations. Luckily, despite lockdowns, distant learning, social distancing and home office, the foundation reached its goal for donations and even exceeded it a bit during May thanks to all people who took part!

It is important for a school not only to receive support but to support others as well. ISR started this activity a while ago and it is important to continue it despite the change of employees, colleagues and families or other changes ISR is going through. As a school, we have always been open and willing to help the local community and the Pink Train Foundation is one of the channels on how to do it. Through community samples, it teaches our students to be active citizens as well, and if you commit to something, like supporting by running, etc., you just have to stick to it and do it no matter what. As we also say and believe, we want our students to become citizens of tomorrow. Hard and tough, but reality, they have no idea what will happen in their lives. We wish them all the best – health, success and everything, but you have to understand that things sometimes just happen, unexpected or planned and it is good to know that you can receive support as well as make a change for others by giving help.
You don’t have to be afraid to start small, Zinta began small with Pink Train as well. There were people around helping her, she noticed them and began to express and work on ideas to expand awareness among society. It gradually became bigger, demonstrating another valuable lesson for students – you can start small but it can grow out something really big. Our school’s Student Council has been engaged to help as well. They participated in bake sales to raise money for the foundation. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have to do it always but actually when you approach them with encouragement they are excited to accomplish it.
I believe it is important not only to think about yourself but about the people around you as well. As an ISR teacher implementing ISR values in our daily lives outside of the school as well, this definitely is one of my ways how I am a global citizen helping the local society by supporting the Pink Train Foundation.

Throughout years there have been different activities organized by the PTF to raise awareness about breast cancer and raise money for support. One of the very first things they had and did was a calendar with photos of ladies who have either struggled from breast cancer or who were simply engaged and ready to talk about it in public by showing support. The photographer is a parent of the school, and some of the calendar girls are still teachers of ISR. One of the most special memories I have is the calendar opening event. We had a train trip Riga – Dubulti, “the enterTRAINment”, where musicians had agreed to play in the train wagons while the train went to Dubulti for the opening for the exhibition of the calendar. It was very emotional because one of the calendar girls had just passed away a few days before because of cancer.

Later activities expanded to participation in the Riga Marathon as an example. In the beginning, there were only a few ISR members running in it but within years more students and families joined. I was not a runner at that time at all while today running has become my passion and I can’t live without it anymore. The Riga Marathon has now become a part of ISR and every runner looks for someone who donates a certain amount of money to the PTF for every mile/kilometer they do. Finally, but not least at all, I find it truly important to be next to a friend and support her – it matters and fulfills.

I wish that the ISR and Pink Train foundation stays together and supports each other, that the foundation raises enough money to help as many women as possible who are in need to receive help. I believe it is very important that an idea lives on, that this activity is carried out despite our community changing within years.