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Oct 5, 2017

Singing for joy

Nastya with Vlad (centre) from the social club
Nastya with Vlad (centre) from the social club

Watching transformation take place is a very rewarding activity. It's often hard to spot, but you get to learn where to look for it and how to identify it.

Here at Salem Social Village, we're constantly seeking transformation: not so much in the material things, but the inner things - a new awareness arriving, a new way of thinking encountered, a new breakthrough in fighting discriminatory attitudes, a new understanding of what's truly important in life. And so when we see those little flickers of transformation at work, we like to share the good news!

Recently we enjoyed hearing Nastya's story - a talented singer, she happened to come across our social club for people with disabilities. But rather than being shocked or turned off, as many here might be, she was inspired as she realised that she had something to contribute; and she did.

Her mini-concerts for the social club were hugely appreciated by all those who attend, but it was clear that the lights had come on for her through this experience too. "I really love bringing joy to these wonderful people and sharing something of my heart," she told us. "It’s good to give!"

Meanwhile, a new academic year has begun, with new challenges and new opportunities. We were able to help a number of families for whom this is a difficult and uncomfortably expensive time of year, whilst also explaining our new Critical Thinking course, another place where lights are regularly coming on for people. There was also a footballing camp to teach young players the importance of fair play, and another chance to explore our particular approach with the wider charitable sector here.

So a busy few months, but when there's transformation happening all around, there are always reasons to sing for joy.

Thanks for supporting us in making it all happen!

The football camp training in full swing
The football camp training in full swing
Some of the enthusiastic young trainees
Some of the enthusiastic young trainees
Presenting much-needed school supplies
Presenting much-needed school supplies
Explaining what a Critical Thinking course means
Explaining what a Critical Thinking course means
Another chance to discuss social entrepreneurship
Another chance to discuss social entrepreneurship

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Jul 24, 2017

The gift of movement

One wheelchair delivered to a grateful household
One wheelchair delivered to a grateful household

The man lay paralyzed in his bed, groaning incoherently. He had lost almost all movement in his body, and his wife explained that his groans were all he could do to thank us. Yet it was clear that he, along with his wife, was immensely grateful for the wheelchair we had brought for him.

But whilst he was desperately trying to thank us for the gift, we were more interested in thanking this wonderful family for their shining example of loyalty to one another through the hardest of times, showing the kind of commitment in the face of such difficulties that is rarely seen here.

And of course, alongside the joy of giving, of being able to do just a bit to help, we are also very grateful to the donors of the wheelchairs who enabled us to pass on this very special gift of movement.

Thanks to the generosity of Medline Industries, we've been able to distribute a number of high quality wheelchairs to grateful recipients in the city over the last few months. You can read more on our website, but we wanted to take this chance to say thank you for supporting Salem Social Village and the people of Shymkent. We're making a difference.

And another one
And another one
This one was a slightly different situation
This one was a slightly different situation
Someone else we helped - with a scholarship
Someone else we helped - with a scholarship
Kids having fun after their trip to the theatre
Kids having fun after their trip to the theatre
Preview of our new English course curriculum
Preview of our new English course curriculum

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May 11, 2017

Talking, sitting, enabling, and more

The World Without Limits gang at a recent birthday
The World Without Limits gang at a recent birthday

Greetings from Shymkent, where Salem Social Village continues to flourish and develop. The Spring has been a busy period for us - we've got stories about the value of talking, the importance of sitting, the rewards of enabling, the fun of celebrating, and the necessity of fire-fighting

But the story we wanted to share today is about our favorite regulars at Salem Social Cafe, the young people from the World Without Limits social club. We are really proud of the achievements of our dear friends, who we have had the honor of serving and getting to know over more than three years now. We have watched how these young people with disabilities, together with their parents, have moved forward, learned many things, and fought for their dream to become independent and equal members of society.

Today the people from the social club genuinely feel like they are on a more equal footing with their able-bodied peers: they are now able to study on English courses, go to the cinema, a museum or the park, organize for themselves creative fun at Salem, celebrate special occasions and birthdays, and create new friendships and connections through social media.

To a Western onlooker it might not seem like much, but when you consider the average life of a person with disabilities during the time of the Soviet Union, much of which has continued on since then through people’s long-held assumptions and attitudes, these small steps forward are actually enormous mindset-busting cultural innovations. These wonderful people have indeed been able to begin fully realizing their dreams!

Thanks for your part in making that possible.

Training in how to select the correct wheelchair
Training in how to select the correct wheelchair
The trainer, Gerdine, in action
The trainer, Gerdine, in action
How much plov?! Celebrating Nauryz in Shymkent
How much plov?! Celebrating Nauryz in Shymkent
Traditional dress and songs for Kazakh New Year
Traditional dress and songs for Kazakh New Year
Conclusion of the fire-fighting demonstration
Conclusion of the fire-fighting demonstration

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