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Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens

by Salem Union
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens

Dear friends,

Around the world this is a challenging and tense time for many. However, stepping back from the immediate global crisis, we wanted to share our progress during 2019 with you.

Looking back, we compiled quite a list of activities over the year, which forms something of an annual report. In 2019:

  • 2,000 people studied on our English courses
  • 75 of these from disavantaged communities studied with partial discounts or completely for free
  • There were 20 meetings of the World Without Limits social club for people with disabilities
  • There were 40 meetings of the Salem Youth club encouraging volunteering among young people
  • We held 40 'Business Breakfast' training sessions for staff and guests
  • We signed an agreement with the city's AIDS Centre to partner together in raising awareness of HIV/AIDS issues
  • 800 people took part in the AIDS Xperience simulation
  • Our Essential Teacher Skills conference was attended by 90 teachers from around the city
  • We distributed 130 baskets of groceries funded by a local charity to families in need
  • We hosted a presentation by the mobile phone company Beeline about employing people with disabilities
  • We celebrated Nauryz, the Kazakh New Year, with about 400 guests
  • The Shymkent Run Club held 2 presentations in our cafe
  • We held 6 meetings with the local environmental activist Damir Karimov
  • The local charity Wings of Freedom held a conference in our cafe with 50 participants on the theme of 'Let's talk about equality'
  • The Russian photographer Yegor Voinov held a masterclass at Salem
  • The Association of Family Businesses held a conference in our cafe with 50 participants on the theme of 'Family Business'
  • 20 adults and 20 children took part in acting classes held by Sylvia Alloway from California, including their final performance in the cafe at the end of the course
  • 50 young people attended our Youth Leadership Camp for young leaders
  • Mohammed Said from the US, who was disabled by a bomb as a child in Afghanistan and now raises awareness of disability issues around the world, visited Salem
  • We sent furniture and wheelchairs to the Shardara Disabled Association in a town outside the city
  • We distributed a further 60 wheelchairs to people with disabilities around the city
  • The VegaLife group ran a masterclass in vegan cooking in our cafe
  • The Community Plus charity held two workships at Salem
  • The EcoFest and plogging event was attended by 23 people
  • Other events at Salem in 2019 included an artistic masterclass for beginners, a seminar with Bill Einreinhoffer from the New York Film Academy, and the city theatre's programme at the New Year party for the World Without Limits social club
  • And finally, Salem was very proud to receive a significant recognition at the inaugural Ozgeris Ustasy (creator of change) awards

This year is already proving to be quite different in lots of ways, and internet restrictions at present mean we can't send you any pictures this time around, but be assured that we continue to work to see Global Citizens grow wherever possible!

Thanks for reading, on behalf of everyone at Salem Social Village.

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Arman & Angela with Salem's recent award
Arman & Angela with Salem's recent award

Salem Social Village was the very proud recipient of a significant and unusual award last month at the inaugural government-sponsored Ozgeris Ustasy awards (which means Creator of Change in Kazakh). Our many years of work to create change were recognised as we scooped a prize for developing social entrepreneurship in Kazakhstan.

The Ozgeris Ustasy awards were a new initiative from the Ministry of Information and Social Development, and were held at the grand Centre for the Support of Civil Initiatives in Almaty. Arman, our General Director, and his wife Angela, our Personnel Director (above), were able to attend and receive Salem's award.

Arman said, "From the stage I told them that social entrepreneurs in Kazakhstan feel lonely right now. Not many people understand or support our work. People see social ideas and projects as risky. We have to work hard against a lot of inertia and with many systems against us in order to make progress. Thanks to this awards ceremony, have received recognition and acknowledgment, not just from the government but from Civil Society."

And recognition on a national stage is also another great step forward on Salem's long-term journey to bringing change here, for which we all feel very proud and grateful.

Meanwhile, recently we held an EcoFest at Salem, because we care about the planet and want to encourage people to do their bit. As part of the event, we did some plogging! Dressed, equipped and ready, our intrepid volunteers headed off in this unusual combined pursuit of getting some exercise and cleaning up a bit as they went along.

And they were certainly successful on both fronts: a significant amount of rubbish was collected, and everyone was very inspired - which is something to celebrate in a culture where everyone assumes that social problems are the government's responsibility to solve.

Finally, may we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2020!

The awards event was full of the normal wow factor
The awards event was full of the normal wow factor
Arman speaking to acknowledge Salem's award
Arman speaking to acknowledge Salem's award
Ploggers heading off to begin their mission
Ploggers heading off to begin their mission
Sorting through the piles of litter collected
Sorting through the piles of litter collected
Celebrating a good morning's work!
Celebrating a good morning's work!
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The Salem Youth Leadership Camp 2019
The Salem Youth Leadership Camp 2019

Presentations from various engaging speakers on some highly relevant topics; meeting like-minded people; making new friends; baursak (a very popular local fried snack) and plov (a well-known Central Asian dish of slow-cooked meat and rice); live music; dancing; team games; a unique cross-cultural interactive game called 'Baffa-Baffa'; competitions and prizes; a fun active time; reflection and discussion; unforgettable moments. So what's it got to be? Yes, that's right - the Youth Leadership Camp at Salem!

Now well established as an annual event, this year it was again hailed as 'best ever'! With 50 young people from 14 to 20 years old, we looked at the habits and skills of great leaders, and gave them a chance to explore their own personalities and characteristics in light of them.

We talked a lot about values - not just giving lectures about them, but actually exploring the realities of how we interact and make decisions ... by interacting and making decisions! After the team games were done, we reflected on the experiences from the various activities, considering our own reactions to the situations we were in and to the others in the team. It was a lot of fun, but it was also a lot more than just fun.

Young people here aspire to more. They're asking big questions about life, freedom, principles, leadership. Many have given up on their country and just want to escape to somewhere better. But at Salem Social Village, we take delight in inspiring them to look deeper and think for themselves - and many are discovering that good answers to their questions are much more accessible than they think!

Everyone had a chance to find their own voice
Everyone had a chance to find their own voice
Team games required a lot of ... well, teamwork!
Team games required a lot of ... well, teamwork!
Others required different ways of working together
Others required different ways of working together
And then they had to navigate complete blindness!
And then they had to navigate complete blindness!
Making new friends was just as important
Making new friends was just as important

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A grateful recipient family
A grateful recipient family

Every year, International Children's Day is marked on 1st June, and at Salem we try and use that opportunity to do something special. As it fell this year, we were in the midst of our registration for our Summer semester of English courses that day. And although we were again able to invite a significant number of children from disadvantaged backgrounds to study with us at greatly reduced rate, or even for free, as part of our social priorities, we wanted to do something more than just that.

Previously, through the kind generosity of Medline Industries Inc and the help of Crossroads Foundation, Salem Social Village received a large shipment of high quality wheelchairs for children and adults. Whilst the adult wheelchairs were in huge demand and quickly distributed, we don't have so many connections with children in need of such equipment.

But for a key day like this, one of our team got on the case and was able to track down a number of families who were incredibly grateful to receive a wheelchair for their child. Not only that, but we were able to provide them with training in getting the most from the wheelchair, correct sitting positions for the child in it, and other helpful resources.

As well as being able to give them much needed assistance in their challenge of bringing up a child with significant disabilites, we now have new contacts that we can keep in touch with and help along the way. It takes more than just a wheelchair to transform a family's life, but when you need a wheelchair, receiving one is a very significant start.

Checking the equipment
Checking the equipment
Training for recipient families
Training for recipient families
More grateful recipients
More grateful recipients
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Vika from the Salem team briefs attendees
Vika from the Salem team briefs attendees

Earlier this year, Salem Social Village signed a partnership agreement with the AIDS Centre in Shymkent, which was a big step forward for us. A close working relationship with a government body like this will hopefully allow us to reach a much larger quantity of students and teenagers in the city, enabling us to more effectively tackle the challenge of HIV/AIDS, which is still growing here.

The innovative interactive project which we call the AIDS-Xperience has been going for six years already, and remains an entirely free resource for people in the city. During that time, more than 4,200 people have learnt more about the problems of HIV/AIDS and the importance of making good life decisions.

The AIDS Xperience was developed by Crossroads Foundation Inc in Hong Kong, and its unique form of walk-through simulation makes it a highly effective form of training, allowing participants to literally walk in the shoes of someone at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, by hearing their life story whilst passing through different rooms representing scenes from their life. Students, those in the higher grades of school, and representatives of NGOs have all discovered key facts and learnt the importance of compassion towards those directly affected by HIV/AIDS.

We have certainly found that this format is very effective by providing an immensely realistic feeling of what it is like to be in each situation of their lives, and enabling participants to gain not just knowledge but empathy and understanding towards those who are HIV positive. The goal is not just greater understanding of the issues and risks to help reduce infection rates, though this is of course vital, but also breaking down assumptions and prejudices around the whole subject of HIV/AIDS, fighting the discrimination and marginalisation that is still so common here.

This new agreement is another big step forward in the realisation of these goals!

The five Salem projects we continue to develop
The five Salem projects we continue to develop
The local advert for Salem's English courses
The local advert for Salem's English courses
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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
$35,339 raised of $75,000 goal
 
177 donations
$39,661 to go
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