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A new roof for the Salem Social Cafe in Kazakhstan

by Salem Union
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A new roof for the Salem Social Cafe in Kazakhstan
A new roof for the Salem Social Cafe in Kazakhstan
A new roof for the Salem Social Cafe in Kazakhstan
A new roof for the Salem Social Cafe in Kazakhstan
A new roof for the Salem Social Cafe in Kazakhstan
A new roof for the Salem Social Cafe in Kazakhstan
A new roof for the Salem Social Cafe in Kazakhstan
A new roof for the Salem Social Cafe in Kazakhstan
A new roof for the Salem Social Cafe in Kazakhstan
Work underway on the roof
Work underway on the roof

Dear friends,

We're very excited to be able to tell you that we have been able to get a new roof on the cafe! Salem Social Cafe is now protected for the winter and for many years to come, with a smart new roof that took about two months to install but is now all done. After the big fundraising push over the last 18 months, we're really excited to have finally got it done.

We want to say a big thank you to you for your support in this project - it's not necessarily something that would get the attention of many, but we realise how valuable your support is in things of this nature. And in reality, it is a massive step forward that will affect many many people both now and in the years ahead. We couldn't have done it without your help.

So thanks once more for your investment in the people of Central Asia! We're always welcoming new people to the cafe who are inspired by its design, impressed by its quality and engaged with its mission. Thanks for making that continuing mission possible by safeguarding the cafe's future and helping us help others to help those in need.

With love from everyone at Salem Social Cafe, at the heart of the Social Village!

PS We'll be closing this project in Global Giving shortly, and this will be the last Project Report for the cafe roof project, however our main Salem Social Village project remains active, and we'd love to keep in touch - please sign up for our Village Leaf newsletter if you don't already get it.

Celebrating removing the first sheets of asbestos
Celebrating removing the first sheets of asbestos
Cutting and fitting the new sections
Cutting and fitting the new sections
Seeing the progress from afar
Seeing the progress from afar
Seeing progress from the ground
Seeing progress from the ground
The new roof is on!
The new roof is on!

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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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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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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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Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Christmas isn't a big event here, but New Year is the one time of the year absolutely everyone celebrates with their family and friends. And so we wanted to use this chance to send you a special message, to say thank you for your support this year, and to wish you a great festive period.

We've recorded our little message in this video (unfortunately we can't embed it into this email), so click on the link or you can paste this address into your browser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1lSWQnfWU4

We've included the English translation of the message from the video here, but you really need to watch it to get the full message!

"Dear friends, students, partners, volunteers, supporters,

We want to wish you a Happy New Year! Thank you for being with us this year.

We wish you and your families peace, success in your work, well-being for your country, and also happiness and health to each of you.

With love,
Salem Social Village"

Please read our latest Village Leaf email for more news about some recent things we've been able to do, and we wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.

With love from the whole team at Salem Social Village

Giving away wheelchairs to kids with disabilities
Giving away wheelchairs to kids with disabilities
New Year fun for everyone!
New Year fun for everyone!

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Organization Information

Salem Union

Location: Shymkent, South Kazakhstan - Kazakhstan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ssvshymkent
Project Leader:
Tim Munday
Shymkent, South Kazakhstan Kazakhstan

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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