Shymkent Activists Bring Healing Power of Art to Children’s Hospitals

ASTANA – The KazAlliance community in Shymkent recently painted the walls of the children’s neurosurgery and oncology departments of its regional children’s hospital with bright colours and vivid images.13599826_906664332777383_1762166605211718812_n

Instead of grey walls, there are now pictures of butterflies, flowers and cartoon characters. All this is not only for beauty, but also for therapeutic purposes. Art therapy is being put in action at the hospital.

Young patients in the neurosurgery department often have serious injuries and have undergone complex surgeries. Doctors say that a good mood for these children is a serious aid to healing. The paintings help children feel as though they are in a kindergarten, not a hospital.13466058_1052750471426793_326503474053506697_n

According to chief physician of the regional children’s hospital Anuarbek Maimakov, parents said the paintings have helped their children’s moods improve a bit.

Complementary therapies like these are used in many countries around the world and the hospital management said, “When the volunteers asked permission [to paint], we supported them without hesitation.”

This spring, KazAlliance also launched free English language courses for local youth and drew volunteers from among their students. First, Pictor art studio painters drew sketches on the hospital walls; then, a team of 30 people came to the hospital to paint in small groups, to keep from disturbing patients.

Aikerim Zhumagaliyeva joined the KazAlliance team, driven by a desire to be helpful, to change the world for the better and to do good deeds. She strongly believes that one person can produce important changes.13450184_1052175601484280_4656475540766863303_n

“I was offered different projects, including buying clothes, toys, furniture and sweets and organising events for children. But then I learned that the staff of the Kasietti Zhol Fund painted the walls of the children’s hospital in Astana, and I realised I should do the same,” said KazAlliance activist Zhumagaliyeva in an interview with The Astana Times.

Inspired by the O’Henry story, “The Last Leaf,” she knew that a small change could help lead to a speedy recovery.

Volunteer and (R) Aikerim Zhumagaliyeva

Volunteer and Aikerim Zhumagaliyeva (R)

“I know it sounds corny, but the primary task of the KazAlliance is the consolidation of the youth for the good of the motherland and for the benefit of society. … Our activists are friendly and supportive. I wish the local youth was the same. Because the youth’s unity and their belief that they can make our future better is a fundamental thing. We believe that provoking youth to perform good deeds can change them for the better. Only united can they achieve their goals,” she said.

The project is not a one-day or one-off event. The community was able to pay for the services of professionals to bring joy to young patients. But the main goal was to demonstrate that there are people ready to do good things with their own hands.

“This is how a single good deed can change the world. The reaction of the volunteers was important. They heard babies crying and saw children who could not get out of bed. And the next day, they saw joy in their eyes and gratitude from their mothers. They were really proud,” she said.

“Children saw the pictures and started to discuss the painted characters,” Zhumagaliyeva recalled. “The babies touched the walls with their hands and the doctors could give injections and put in IVs without them crying. I remember the volunteers saying that previously, they had only seen children with such diseases on TV. It seemed as if these things happen somewhere far away, in a parallel world. But such children were among us. We didn’t notice them before. Now we have a chance to do something for them.”

“We came to the hospital every day, despite our fatigue and the hot weather. Young people also learn to overcome laziness. This activity has an educational effect, too. We educate the youth because our future depends on them. To my regret, I cannot organise wall painting in all hospitals our country. But I believe that youth community and voluntary organisations will support this initiative. I urge each of you to help little children and make them smile during the most difficult times of their lives,” she said.

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