Kyzylorda volunteers cultivate concern for others, present inclusive theatre production

ASTANA – A Kyzylorda volunteer organisation held a charity concert April 21 as part of the social programme to help rehabilitate and socialise individuals with physical challenges. The inclusive theatre and wheelchair dance troupe presented its debut performance.

Team of Kyzylorda volunteers

Team of Kyzylorda volunteers

“We decided to arrange a concert to support our unique projects – the inclusive theatre and wheelchair partner dancing. Our performers have problems with transportation. They do not have the opportunity to get to a specialised bus. So, they proposed an idea to organise a concert and use the funds collected to purchase a minivan. Soloists of the special dance project have already taken part in other events. Their performance created a furore at a youth ball recently,” organisation head Olga Chebakova told The Astana Times.

The group, called Kyzylorda Volunteers, was launched in January 2015 when local enthusiasts decided to unite and create a like-minded community.

Olga Chebakova

Olga Chebakova

“There was no such thing as volunteering in our city. No one understood what it meant, what should be done. I had a volunteering experience as I helped the organisations at various events and worked with public funds. We decided to work purposefully in this direction and therefore we opened our own organisation. United Nations volunteer Nikita Shabayev from Astana came to us at the end of 2015. We collaborated for a year. I am grateful for getting to know him. He consulted with us on various issues,” she said.

The organisation does not work in one specific direction and tries to help everyone. Earlier, they addressed different social groups with a proposal to help them. Now, people come to them directly for assistance.

Chebakova, an entrepreneur who owns a printing company, noted the main goal is to attract people’s attention.

“We visited a rural foster house and held several events there. We conducted master classes and trainings with children. Our activities made society pay attention to this centre. Then, other organisations started to offer their help in organising other activities. We visited the children’s and adult rehabilitation centres and an oncology hospital. The activities with the physically challenged are of special importance for us,” she said.

The volunteers conduct all their activities without the support of the akimat (local executive body) or sponsors, working instead with partners from public funds and associations. All the projects are widely covered by local media.

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Four coordinators initially developed plans and organised activities. Now, the main team consists of 10-15 people of various age categories, a project head, coordinator and consultant.

“When we have an event, the coordinator conducts meetings, then notifies volunteers about the project. We also invite other participants through social networks such as Vkontakte and Facebook. People fill out the questionnaire and automatically receive the newsletter about the event. After the event, we also provide photo and video reports,” she said.

Chebakova feels helping someone is a path of spiritual purification, making life’s challenges seem more bearable.

Inclusive theatre performers“I never thought I would be a volunteer. Now, the volunteering takes most of my time; on the contrary, I work when I have spare time. When I began to communicate with people with disabilities, my personal problems faded into the background. We forget how to enjoy life and simple things in our daily routine. We are obsessed with our problems and do not notice people who need help and attention. I see a sense of respect, gratitude and joy in people’s eyes and it is really inspiring,” she said.

The attitude towards the volunteer movement in Kyzylorda has changed. People have become more interested and ready to help.

“We would like to promote volunteering in schools next year. We plan to conduct trainings in this direction. I plan to make a project on voluntary groups. Volunteers have a completely different world view. Volunteering leads to success. Young philanthropists find a good job and new hobbies easily,” she said.