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Nov 25, 2016

Building on Good Foundations

A new roof for a building on good foundations
A new roof for a building on good foundations

It takes a lot of work to look after a site as big as ours, but it's a wonderful place to operate from, and the buildings themselves are solid. Originally built as a kindergarten in Soviet times, they have extra-solid foundations, designed to protect the little ones in the event of an earthquake. There are still old windows we need to replace, and an old heating system that needs updating, but the foundations are very good.

It's a good metaphor of our work here, and some of what we've been doing over the last few months. In September we celebrated 20 years of continuous charitable activities here in the city since we were registered as an organisation, the experience and reputation from that time still reaping benefits now. We've had more students visiting our AIDS Xperience and learning not just facts but a new attitude towards those with and at risk of HIV/AIDS. We've had opportunities to share our experience and understanding of social entrepreneurship in Kazakhstan with other NGOs around the country. 

Our English courses continue to be very popular, with each semester producing many young people influenced not just with improved English but a new outlook on the world and how to address its issues. Our cafe continues to function well as a popular meeting place for local students, and now with its new roof to safeguard its future as a community resource. Our Care project was able to help a number of families in very difficult circumstances so that their kids could start the new school year.

There's no point putting a nice new roof on a building with unsure foundations, in the same way as inspiring people to help those in need around them needs to start from a solid understanding of how to bring real change over the long-term. Foundations aren't all that 'sexy', but they're vital for a reliable construction.

Thanks for investing in us and all that we're building on those foundations to bring lasting change to Central Asia.

From all the team here.

Assistance enabled new clothes for school
Assistance enabled new clothes for school
Students studying hard and having fun!
Students studying hard and having fun!
Celebrations at the 20 year anniversary
Celebrations at the 20 year anniversary
The old roof starts coming off - everyone
The old roof starts coming off - everyone's happy!
More kids helped to get to school
More kids helped to get to school

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Aug 30, 2016

Being with friends

Victor at his birthday party in the cafe
Victor at his birthday party in the cafe

Sometimes it's helpful to take a step back and notice the things that have become normal. When the remarkable becomes unremarkable, that's a sure sign that genuine change has taken place.

Recently in the Salem Social Cafe, a young member of our World Without Limits social club for people with disabilities celebrated his 20th birthday. His name is Victor, and he's a talented and positive guy who loves drawing, is great at dancing, and spends lots of time in his favourite library at Salem Social Village.

We don't think of him as disabled; he's just one of our friends. We don't think of it as unusual that he got to celebrate his birthday among friends who respect and appreciate him; yet outside of our cafe, you wouldn't find that kind of thing going on anywhere else in the city. Those with disabilities of any kind are still largely shut away or marginalised, suffering the kind of discrimination that would horrify many in the West.

It's a great measure of progress when, for us at least, these things become normal - and that's how it should be.

Thanks for your support in helping us keep the cafe open and providing a unique place of welcome and interaction for everyone, no matter what society says about them.

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Aug 29, 2016

Ivan's Story

Ivan himself collecting some of the donated items
Ivan himself collecting some of the donated items

We thought that this story would be about how, through the request of a guy named Ivan, Salem Social Village was able to send some much needed material assistance to the Medvedko family, who live in the village of Granitogorsk, in the Taraz region. They have 9 children, and so just getting by is pretty tough for them – we were glad to be able to help.

But what we discovered was that the real story turned out to be Ivan’s.

Ivan is now just over 30 years old. He’s a strong and good looking guy, full of energy and exuding kindness. He’s an active volunteer with a charitable organisation which helps homeless people, very large families, people with disabilities and many others in need.  All unremarkable, except that… Ivan has a group 2 disability: most of his legs and the fingers of his hands have been amputated.

An orphan and a homeless alcoholic, he spent a whole night lost in the steppe at minus 20 degrees C, only being rescued by charity volunteers who saved him and helped him get his life back. >>> Read more of Ivan's story here >>>

“I don’t regret anything. Even though it cost me so much, I have found genuine treasure. What would I say now? Appreciate what you have! Do good to others – it is the source of true happiness, and we can all do it!”

When you set out to help those in need, you anticipate encountering endless stories of tragedy, sadness and despair. But there are so many out there, like Ivan, who have inspiring stories that bring hope. We love meeting them, hearing their stories and enabling them to help others even more than they were already doing. And then telling their stories, in the hope of inspiring others to also get involved.

Thanks for supporting us, as we support people like Ivan.

Some of the Medvedko children
Some of the Medvedko children

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