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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
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

Links:

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
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
The local advert for Salem's English courses
Happy new year from everyone at Salem!
Happy new year from everyone at Salem!

As Salem closes for its festive break over New Year, we want to wish all our donors and supporters a very Happy New Year! 

2018 has been a busy one for us, and just recently we had possibly our most famous visitor yet, when Wheelchair Man - or at least his creator - came to see around Salem.

Mohammad Sayed was abandoned by his family in Afghanistan after his house was bombed and he was left paralysed. Now he has become a US citizen, and designed a comic book superhero - Wheelchair Man - based on his own life story.

His desire is to bring a message of hope and empowerment to children with disabilities around the world, and he focuses his creative talents on developing adaptive tools for people in wheelchairs, as well as creating comic book characters such as Wheelchair Man to inspire others facing physical challenges. His goal is not only to help rebuild hope and confidence among people with disabilities but also to raise the consciousness of people everywhere to the abilities of those in wheelchairs.

Not only was he delighted to see the work that we do with people with disabilities, but we surprised him with a mural of his very own Wheelchair Man on the wall at Salem! He has various other ideas for further comic book characters, and mentioned that maybe one of them should come from Kazakhstan! Now that would be special.

We trust that you have a peaceful and prosperous 2019, and that along with everyone at Salem, and Mohammed himself, your desire to inspire others and raise awareness of the bigger issues continues to grow.

With many thanks,

Tim, on behalf of the Social Village team

Mohammed and friends by his brand new mural
Mohammed and friends by his brand new mural
Mohammed in the Salem cafe hearing about our work
Mohammed in the Salem cafe hearing about our work
Team building with pallets and planks, Salem-style
Team building with pallets and planks, Salem-style

It gets hot here in the summer, and young people need to find constructive ways to chill out, have some fun and survive the heat. 

This summer, Salem Social Village put on a Youth Leadership Camp over two days to provide not only a lot of fun, but also a significant purpose by training young people in leadership-related topics. And when we say training, that's activity-based learning with a whole lot of time for reflection and discussion, not the 'lecture and take lots of notes' approach.

Team-building activities and seminars were supplemented, Salem Social Village style, with some experiential learning initiatives focussed on raising awareness of social issues. This included 'Living on wheels' simulation, with the young people sent out into the city with a wheelchair to get a first hand experience of just how hard it is being disabled. They also went through our AIDS Xperience to understand the lives of those at risk of HIV/AIDS infection, and how normal people can be put at risk.

This was the highlight of the summer at Salem, but there was so much else going on too, including a rock concert attended by over 700 people - but that will have to wait until next time.

Thanks again from everyone at Salem for your support in helping us to continue challenging discrimination, training future leaders, and bringing change to society here. It can be a lot of fun, but it's always purposeful.

Signing up for the event of the summer
Signing up for the event of the summer
Paying close attention to all that was being said
Paying close attention to all that was being said
Discovering what life is like in a wheelchair
Discovering what life is like in a wheelchair
Just getting over the road can be a big challenge
Just getting over the road can be a big challenge
And how on earth do you get on a bus like that?!
And how on earth do you get on a bus like that?!
 

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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
$30,587 raised of $75,000 goal
 
146 donations
$44,413 to go
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