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Nov 24, 2015

'It's just a wonderful place'

A recent volunteer training session in our cafe
A recent volunteer training session in our cafe

We know that a fundraising project for a new roof isn't necessarily the most exciting thing you'll read about this week - but we also know that you're well aware of how something being exciting doesn't always mean it's important; in fact, often quite the opposite. So we're really thrilled that since we last wrote in September, more people have chosen to invest in something important, and we've added a further $1,400 to our total! Thank you everyone who has helped us get this far!

Why is this project important? (And we think it is actually a bit exciting, too!) Well, simply because without a roof, our cafe cannot remain open - and that would affect so much of what we at Salem Social Village are able to do to transform lives, bit by bit, every week. Just in the last couple of months, we've had the World Without Limits social club for people with disabilities getting together and having fun in a way they simply couldn't anywhere else in the city; we've had training sessions with our volunteers; we've had English conversation clubs; we've hosted a two day regional conference for NGOs and young people engaged with social projects; we've had young people hanging out in a safe friendly place on Friday evenings; and we've had a whole lot of different people through who use our cafe for a whole lot of different reasons.

Just yesterday I was talking to a young guy who works in the city for one of the airlines that flies here. He speaks good English, Chinese (and Russian and Kazakh, of course) and is clearly a rising star awaiting his next step upwards. One of the future leaders of Kazakhstan, you'd have to say. He originally came to Salem to practice his English, but even though lots of the foreigners here he got to know have left, he still comes back. Why, I asked him? 'It's just a wonderful place,' he said. 'There's nowhere else in the city with this atmosphere, where you can relax, meet great people, be yourself. We love it here, and we've learnt so much from the people we've got to know.'

Whether it's someone with severe disabilities or someone with a potentially soaring future ahead, the cafe is important as a place where values are changed. And that's why we're so thankful that you decided to help us through your donation.

Could you help us raise the remaining funds needed by sharing our story with others? Please sign up for our Village Leaf monthly news to learn more, or click on one of the links below to share our project page around your network.

A Disabled Club birthday party - with puppet show!
A Disabled Club birthday party - with puppet show!
Some of our staff relaxing in the cafe recently
Some of our staff relaxing in the cafe recently
One of our English classes outside the cafe
One of our English classes outside the cafe
Students in a pic to advertise our English courses
Students in a pic to advertise our English courses

Links:

Sep 8, 2015

Children, containers and conferences

Some of the kids we
Some of the kids we've been able to help recently

Arman, our local Executive Director, explains some of the things going on at Salem Social Village this month and next.

This month when school starts again is very hard for families who don't have money. Children need many things for school, books, pens, clothes. We have contact with three families who have very difficult situations. One of them is a single mother with four children - the oldest is just starting First Class (age 6), the youngest is just 8 months. Another has a daughter who is completely paralyzed and can only lie in bed all day. But we have helped them with some of the things they need so that the children can still go to school. They are so grateful that there is someone who cares for them, and we love to help!

At the end of July our container finally arrived from Hong Kong! It was full of quality donated goods for us to distribute to other organisations but paperwork problems meant that its journey took almost three months longer than normal - we waited a long time! Finally we were able to open it and unpack many things which we can send to different places to help them in their work.

The charity sector in Kazakhstan is still very young, many people don't understand what is a non-commercial organisation. One of the big events for this sector is Zhas Camp every year (zhas means young or fresh in Kazakh). It's a conference for two days where non-profit organisations like us in Kazakhstan go to talk together. Different projects are presented, we learn about changes that affect NGOs, and meet with other people doing great work like us. Before now Zhas Camp was always in Almaty, but this year they decided to hold a conference in three different places in Kazakhstan. For the south of the country, Salem Social Village was invited to host the Zhas Camp next month. This is a big honour for us and we are looking forward to welcome many organisations to our site!

The container finally arrives on our site...
The container finally arrives on our site...
...up it goes so the truck can drive away...
...up it goes so the truck can drive away...
...and at long last we get to open it!
...and at long last we get to open it!
Everyone enjoying our recent Open House event
Everyone enjoying our recent Open House event

Links:

Sep 8, 2015

Off to a good start

Guests and friends at our recent Open House event
Guests and friends at our recent Open House event

We launched our fundraising for the new cafe roof in June and immediately had a lot of response from our supporters. One particularly exciting event was when an anonymous donor visited our site via a Google search and made a single donation of £1,000 ($1,500)! Thank you so much, whoever you are!

The cafe was closed during August whilst our English courses took a break for the summer, but we re-launched last week with another Open House event in the cafe. As well as music and entertainment, our staff explained to guests all that we do and interviewed some of those we help. There was a great atmosphere in the cafe as everyone enjoyed themselves at the start of the new semester, as you can see from all our photos.

There are just a couple more important things to tell you - firstly, we've got a great video about why the cafe needs you, which explains more about the project and why the cafe is so important to us. Please share the link with others and spread the word for us!

Secondly, Kazakhstan's currency was recently devalued quite significantly - what this means is that your money now goes a whole lot further. So without doing anything and regardless of any reclaimed tax, your donation now helps us 28% more than it would have before! Another reason to share our needs with others who could also help us reach our target.

Our different projects are explained
Our different projects are explained
Students and friends enjoying a coffee in the cafe
Students and friends enjoying a coffee in the cafe
Presenters and band members pose for a photo
Presenters and band members pose for a photo
Everyone gets to join in the fun
Everyone gets to join in the fun
The all important group photo of all those present
The all important group photo of all those present

Links:

 
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