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Nov 24, 2015

Shaping the landscape

Zhascamp Conference volunteers dressed and ready !
Zhascamp Conference volunteers dressed and ready !

There's lots to be grateful for, especially when we see another semester begin with a great number of students signed up on our English courses - the revenue from the courses covers a lot of the costs at Salem Social Village. But there's still a big gap that needs to be filled in order to keep this place running, enable our projects to keep operating, and allowing us to continue bringing transformation one step at a time. And that's where we're so grateful for all those who have made donations - you really are a changemaker!

You could say that we're not at the 'front end' of charitable work here at the Social Village - we don't feed hungry children, we don't care for the homeless, we're not dealing with desperate need day after day. But the process of bringing change, challenging attitudes, widening horizons, fighting discrimination, showing how to care - all of these are priceless aspects of our work here, which in their turn can indeed make a massive different for those who are in desperate need.

Recently we were able to host Zhascamp, a regional conference gathering all those who work in the charitable sector and asking provoking questions about how we in Kazakhstan can be more effective in helping the disadvantaged and those in need. In one sense it was just a conference, but in another sense it was a massive opportunity to further shape the landscape here, taking big steps forward in enabling many more to bring change to the world around them. Thank you for being part of that journey with us, we really value your partnership.

If you don't already receive Village Leaf, our monthly newsletter with stories of all that's going on at Salem Social Village, please sign up here.

We're currently fundraising for a new roof for our cafe - could you help? Please click on the links below to find out more.

The main session underway in the cafe, full house
The main session underway in the cafe, full house
Local media attended and did various interviews
Local media attended and did various interviews
Arman, our Executive Director, addresses attendees
Arman, our Executive Director, addresses attendees
Many young dynamic innovators came and learnt lots
Many young dynamic innovators came and learnt lots

Links:

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:

 
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