Kazakhstan’s progress to be represented by stories of everyday people

The strength and success of any community or country is made up of many strands. Leadership is, of course, vital, to set the right direction. But leadership alone can’t make this vision real. This requires the sustained efforts of tens of thousands of people at all levels.

Governments, for example, aim to establish the right framework for economic growth and rising prosperity. But it is entrepreneurs who have the vision and courage to spot opportunities and the drive to set up businesses and create jobs.

In every city, town and village, there are individuals who are the cornerstones of their community. It might be their dedication to their job which explains why they have such a positive impact. They could be teachers who, year after year, inspire their pupils to reach their potential or medical staff whose care and compassion saves and transforms lives.

But these contributions go beyond working lives. They could be caregivers who look after children, volunteers who are the backbone of their community or neighbours who are always ready to lend a helping hand.

Look, for instance, at the example of sport. It is elite sportsmen and women whose names are known to millions and who win international titles and competitions. But they invariably owe a huge debt, as they themselves would be the first to admit, to local volunteer coaches who first set them on the road to success.

It is, of course, the same story with a country. Like these top athletes, Kazakhstan has found itself striding up international tables. We have been fortunate in the leadership that Kazakhstan has enjoyed. But as President Nursultan Nazarbayev never tires of pointing out, our country’s achievements are the product of extraordinary efforts across our whole society.

It is vital that these many and varied contributions are not neglected. It is not just that these individual efforts deserve recognition. By telling these stories, we also help improve national – and international – understanding of the progress that has been made, how it has been achieved and what needs to be done to ensure improvements continue. Importantly, this recognition can also help encourage others to step up their own efforts.

Celebrating these contributions is the aim of the 100 New Faces initiative. Launched as part of the Modernisation of Kazakhstan’s Identity programme earlier this year, the intention is to find 100 individuals drawn from every region, sector and age group.

Together, they will form a true cross-section of our society but united by the fact that each, in their own way and through their own talent and effort, have helped build modern Kazakhstan. It is also intended that these names – the brightest and best that our country has to offer – will go far beyond the well-known. Minister of Information and Communication Dauren Abaev has said he wants to see unsung heroes and heroines identified and celebrated.

Identifying these role models can’t be done without the full involvement of the wider public. It is often, of course, only their own colleagues, neighbours and friends who know how valuable their efforts have been and the sacrifices that they have made. It is why the public has been asked to help by nominating individuals who should be considered.

The initiative has clearly struck a chord. More than 1,000 individual nominations from the public have already been received and more are arriving every week at the specially designed website 100esim.el.kz. Other names have come from national and local organisations. Rightly the public has also been promised a role in selecting the final 100 faces after nominations close next month. After all, it is their story that the winners will be helping to tell.