More than 50,000 Kazakh volunteers at work in the country

NUR-SULTAN – The practice of volunteering in Kazakhstan is developing rapidly, Chair of the Civil Society Affairs Committee of the Ministry of Information and Social Development Aliya Galimova said in an interview with primeminister.kz.

Aliya Galimova. Photo credit: primeminister.kz.

To date, there are more than 200 volunteer organisations, twice as many as existed in 2017. Currently, more than 50,000 people are involved in the volunteer movement.

Klub 28 Petel members have knitted more than 130,000 sets of clothes for babies, helping more than 2,000 people in all regions of the country. This movement has spread to other countries, including Azerbaijan, Russia and the Baltic countries.

“This club unites different people of different ages, demographic status. There are not only women, but also men who knit things for premature babies,” said Galimova.

Another club called Leader is engaged in the search for missing people. Their offices are located in Nur-Sultan and Ust-Kamenogorsk.

I Am Almaty was one of the first organisations to respond to the tragic events in the Arys and provided first aid to the residents.

The Kamkor organisation helps older people and people with special needs.

Kazakhstan’s National Volunteer Network brings together more than 80 volunteer organisations across the country. One of their projects, Zhenys, provides help for veterans of the Great Patriotic War. Zhenys means victory in Kazakh.

There are seven key areas for developing volunteering: educational services, medical services, environmental services, mentoring people in difficult situations, emergency response, services for the elderly and work to preserve spiritual, cultural and historical values.

As a part of educational volunteering, volunteers in all regions will help children from rural schools prepare for subject Olympiads, Unified National Testing and mid-term exams.

“Volunteers can give new skills in computer technology, robotics and other innovative areas. We assume that within the framework of the Birgemiz Bilim (Joint Education) project in each region, 1,000 rural school students – a total of 14,000 students – will be reached by this assistance from volunteers who will help to increase precisely the educational level,” she said.

Medical volunteering will include work in hospices and oncology centres. Galimova noted the example of Arman Kasymov from Atyrau City, who was working at an oil company on a rotational basis and volunteered on the emergency medical team in his spare time, saying he should motivate others.

“It [volunteering] helps both medical professionals and citizens. Such examples will cultivate, illuminate and engage the population,” she said.

One environmental volunteering organisations in Kazakhstan is Birgemiz. Sabaqtastyq.

The Asyl Mura initiative will be developed to preserve spiritual, cultural and historical values, she added.

The ministry created the web platform Qazvolunteer.kz to facilitate the search for volunteer organisations and projects.

“Anyone who wants to become a volunteer can register on this platform… In the future, when we have snapshots of individual volunteers, organisations can reach out to them based on their previous experience and the assessment of the previous volunteer organisation,” said Galimova.

According to her, it is a stereotype that volunteers are mostly youngsters. Currently, the average volunteer is 35 to 40 years old, with an active civic position and professional experience and education.

Some Kazakh companies have developed corporate volunteering in a business environment, which should also be introduced in small and medium-sized companies, she added.

The government plans to organise the Zhana Bastama (New Initiative) competition where approximately 10 volunteer initiatives will be selected from each region. Approximately 1 million tenge (US$2,657) will be given to the volunteer organisation to compensate its various expenses. Also the ministry will establish an award for the Best Volunteer of the Year to motivate people to volunteer.

“We also envisage several opportunities for our volunteer organisations to be able to go abroad to large dialogue venues, volunteer conferences, in order to exchange experiences and talk about Kazakhstan’s experience,” she said.

Galimova added she expects Kazakh volunteers to participate in large projects such as a global technical meeting in New York in July of this year or Expo 2020 in Dubai.

“I think, volunteers from Kazakhstan will be a prominent segment, having behind them the vast experience of organising Expo in Kazakhstan,” she said.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has declared 2020 the Year of the Volunteer in Kazakhstan. In 2016, a special law on volunteering was adopted in the framework of the 100 Concrete Steps plan to help develop volunteering systematically and sustainably.