ASTANA – Gulmira Abdrasheva has made her commitment to helping people from all across the country a reality by creating the Club Dobryakov Astana (Astana Club of Kind Souls). A great desire to save lives, improve people’s health and relieve fellow citizens in misfortune motivated her to launch the project.
“A few years ago, I found the post on the Internet about the New Year charity campaign,” Abdrasheva recalled in an interview for this story. “Astana volunteers collected gifts for socially-vulnerable families. I decided to help speed up a slow process and talked about that great idea with my friends. We bought missing gifts to help the organisers. Within two days, we gathered nearly 40 gifts. From that moment, I realised that I wanted to bring happiness to many people and not just on New Year’s Eve, but every day.”
Thousands of compassionate volunteers across Kazakhstan and abroad joined the organisation’s Instagram page. People are encouraged to bring clothing, food and medicine for those in need. Many cases raise funds for cancer treatment. The boundaries between cities and countries are being erased by social networks, which definitely unite people.
“Kazakhstan is full of friendly people. They are compassionate and helpful to people in need. A lot of people want to be useful to society and lend a helping hand to those who need it, but they do not know how to do it properly,” she noted.
Abdrasheva’s activity and desire to do good deeds and change the world for the better has motivated thousands to help others. The language of kindness is clear to all.
She believes life is always going to be a challenge as people are tested both in poverty and in wealth.
“My parents always tell me to respect elders and to love those who are younger. I learned all the essential values of life from my parents. They taught me to treat all people equally well and with respect regardless of their social status, religion and age,” she said.
Some families are provided with necessary items on an ongoing basis. More and more of her friends are looking for opportunities to help disadvantaged people and encourage their friends and relatives to join the club.
“It is wrong to assume that the charity is a characteristic of the wealthy people. First of all, charity implies the existence of spiritual wealth. Someone donates blood, someone walks into the house of the elderly speaking to them and playing backgammon, someone visits foster homes and reads books or dresses up like a clown to cheer an ailing child. Club Dobryakov believes that people shall be useful wherever they are,” said Abdrasheva.
It is love that inspires her to accomplish all the things she dreams about, and her strength and confidence come from parental love and support. The greatest sense of satisfaction and happiness generate spiritual feelings that continue to inspire her each time, she explained.
“The volunteer experience has changed my life. I started paying more attention to those who cannot speak about their pain, such as stray animals. The renowned principle of all volunteer clubs and organisations is to take care of local shelters for stray animals. Also, I started paying more attention to people’s actions. Words and promises became meaningless for me. People must show love through sincere actions, not through empty words. Heart has no social status. I am fortunate to meet mostly caring people,” she said.
Club volunteers work in Astana, Almaty, Shymkent and Karaganda and the group regularly holds fundraising events. For example, a charity sale of designer clothes offers high-quality fashion and designer items not exceeding 30,000 tenge (US$89.43).
Another popular and welcomed charity event brings together some of the best make-up artists who apply make-up at any price. The club also organises picnics and bake sales.
In October, Club Dobryakov received the Altyn Zhurek (Golden Heart), a national award for philanthropic activity established in 2007 by the Baurzhan Charitable Foundation. It is the only honour presented to commercial organisations and individuals for implementing charitable programmes and projects in Kazakhstan.