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Jun 1, 2016

Taking off

Everyone having fun at the birthday party!
Everyone having fun at the birthday party!

You know something's going well when it doesn't need much looking after any more.

For a long time, we ran English Conversation Club three times each week in our cafe, where a native English speaker facilitated conversation practice for local students. However, when we weren't able to continue it earlier this year due to staffing issues, we hadn't expeted that it would nonetheless continue.

Some of the students decided that even if we weren't able to organise anything, they would just get on and organise it themselves - and they do! Each time, one of them comes prepared with a topic for everyone to discuss, and they sit there having all sorts of debates and conversations, in English, even welcoming new-comers who turn up.

We've always had a vision for our cafe to be a place where a new kind of community is built - something where people feel welcomed, empowered, safe, and given the freedom to express themselves whilst discovering a new way of looking at the world. The decision of these students to keep coming, keep talking to each other, keep choosing our cafe to hang out in and practice English together, shows that this place is really taking off!

Last month we also welcomed a musical due from Almaty who performed at the birthday party for one of the members of World Without Limits, the social club for disabled people that meets in the cafe. Everyone had a lot of fun, as you can see from the photos! However, our cafe is still at risk until we can get a new roof on it. We still have a significant amount to raise in order to put the new roof on, which we'd really like to do this year.

Please consider whether there's anything that you or your friends could do to help us - we really don't want to be in a situation of having to close the cafe, just as things are really taking off.

With love from everyone at Salem Social Cafe, especially our friends and clients!

Live music always draws a crowd
Live music always draws a crowd
...and then everyone wants to dance!
...and then everyone wants to dance!

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Mar 18, 2016

Using the space

A disabled child getting a wheelchair in the cafe
A disabled child getting a wheelchair in the cafe

"You've given us confidence that we didn't have before."

It's pretty tough bringing up a disabled child, though of course every caring parent knows there are nevertheless wonderful things too. But in the culture here, where disability is often seen as a curse, a shame to be hidden away, the burdens are multiplied.

This particular mother, whose son is confined to a wheelchair, didn't stop there. "We love life," she said, "and don't see disability as a sentence. We love having the chance to spend our free time with our friends in your cafe. We want to be seen as equal members of society. And we're just so grateful to the Social Village and its volunteers, whose work is priceless."

As you know, our cafe isn't just a cafe - it's far more. As a key community space for World Without Limits, our social club for people with disabilities, this meeting space is a lifeline to so many, including our growing band of volunteers who also use the cafe each week.

Thank you for helping us to get a new roof on our cafe - we're not there yet, but we're really hoping to be able to get the new roof on this summer. It's not just us you're helping; there are many other grateful people whose gratitude we also want to pass on.

And another
And another

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Mar 18, 2016

The Caring Bug

Everyone having fun at the party
Everyone having fun at the party

Here at Salem Social Village, we're all about being changemakers, and helping other people become changemakers too. Last month we had a wonderful chance to bring change by caring about the lives of some wonderful yet neglected children - but not only that, we were also able to draw others in too, who also got the chance to care and become changemakers with us as the bug for caring spread.

The Regional Children’s Hospital for children with cancer currently has around 30 kids being treated for various types of cancer – and the way things work here, they aren’t allowed home between treatments; the ward literally becomes their world. In order to draw attention to the problem of children who suffer in this way, and of course to give them a great time, we decided to give them a party.

We also contacted a number of local businesses to tell them about our plan, and lots of them wanted to get involved to help:

  • A huge bunch of large balloons was provided by Air Mood, a party shop
  • Actors from the theatre company Happy Ones came to provide the entertainment
  • The cafe Madlen, well known for its wonderful cakes and desserts, provided food
  • The advertising agency Bukvadyel gave a generous donation for the purchase of toys for the kids
  • The toy shop Marwin gave a 15% discount on the toys purchased for kids with cancer
  • And the non-profit organisation MISK (which stands for Young People's Information Service of Kazakhstan) also lent a helping hand in organising the event.

The event was a great success, and we’re really grateful to everyone who took part. Together we gave each of them a wonderful smile, showing that lots of people were willing to do just a little something to show them some care. Let's keep spreading that caring bug!

>>> Read the fuller story, including how blood donation was involved, on our website. >>>

The smiling bug was spreading too
The smiling bug was spreading too
The actors in costume were really popular
The actors in costume were really popular
It was a pleasure to give each child a gift
It was a pleasure to give each child a gift

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