Children from broken homes and orphanages in Almaty are now receiving support from Chevron to study vocations in an effort to improve their adult lives.
Through the “Early Professional Orientation Project” initiated in 2006 by Chevron and the Youth Achievements Center for Alternative Education, more than 700 teenagers in Almaty and Astana have gained the skills, knowledge, capability, and aptitude to make the first steps in theirselection of future professional careers.
In 2012 and 2013, the project involved 80 children from Almaty who received professional training at Almaty State College of Technology and Management. Children learned about life as a chef, confectioner, hairstylist, office manager and as a waiter and competed in a “Best in Profession” contest to demonstrate their knowledge and skill. A labour market analysis shows that these professions are in high demand in the Almaty region.
“When I was employed as a trainee waiter/bartender “the café director was surprised that I was able to correctly set the table and make milkshakes,” recalled project participant Pavel Kerisnet. “I can obviously do many more things now, however I understood then that I would succeed in life and be able to always earn my keep. It is good that I have had an opportunity to get such beneficial experience as a teenager.”
Roza Bekeshova, the vice principal for children’s affairs at one of the children’s houses says that many children are marginalized, have weathered rough life experiences and frequently run away from the orphanage. “We were very anxious about whether or not they would like the professional orientation program, but found that they came back each Tuesday and Thursday evening for the training and looked forward to visiting the college. The mentors noted that the children became more focused and friendly while learning how to correctly brew tea or make a nice hairstyle.”
Mentor Yuliya Frolova said, “Participation in the project helps our children embrace and value the positive aspects of working while getting pleasure out of it and developing self-sufficiency,”
In addition, 98 mentors, teachers, and volunteers working with the children have been trained to use new interactive technology and teaching methods for the professional orientation programme and its educational activities. Training workshops were supported by the Almaty Department of Children’s Rights Protection.
This year, a total of 13 children from Children’s Home #1 in Almaty and the urban Zeinep comprehensive school were integrated in the Chef and Confectioner orientation programme. According to psychologist Aisha Kussainova, the experience helped the children expand their social networks and learn to be more open and tolerant. Zeinep school students and children in the Chevron programme made friends with each other and expressed hope the project would continue next year.