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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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Jun 10, 2016

Helping and empowering

Love Kazakhstan volunteers doing what they do best
Love Kazakhstan volunteers doing what they do best

As you will be aware by now, we at Salem Social Village love helping people. However, our focus isn't on just assisting those in need; rather, it's about empowering people who can empower others. That's why our projects include education, humanitarian aid, volunteering, a cafe - it's all about passing something on to those who can bring incremental change.

A good example of this is a recent shipment of humanitarian aid that we were able to send to the Almaty-based non-profit organisation ‘Love Kazakhstan’, an inspiring outfit dedicated to helping the most vulnerable groups in society – whether single mothers, the disabled, or anyone else in significant need.

One of the families that they helped recently, the Mamyrbaevs, had just escaped from severe flooding that destroyed their home and almost everything in it. Using items from our shipment, supplied by Crossroads in Hong Kong, Love Kazakhstan was able to help them set up their lives again in a new home.

One of the most inspiring things we found in all this was one of the volunteers with Love Kazakhstan, Almaz, who shared his life story with us. After a very difficult childhood, including a father who walked out on the family, he became convinced of the need not for revenge but of finding joy through helping others.

"I was filled with new feelings, new needs – I wanted to do more, something kind and more important!” he told us. And he's now working to get help to those who need it most. Now that's the kind of people we love to empower.

The Mamyrbaev family with their new furniture
The Mamyrbaev family with their new furniture
They now have something to sleep on at night
They now have something to sleep on at night
Some of the clothes that were also donated to them
Some of the clothes that were also donated to them

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