Human Rights Watch (HRW) calls attention to major issues affecting low-income families and disabled children in Kazakhstan. While it is access to state benefits for the former, the latter face barriers that exclude them from education. Child-focused charities continue playing a crucial role in alleviating these issues and addressing the needs of those affected. Here are five charities operating in Kazakhstan, acting as agents of change.
5 Charities Operating in Kazakhstan
- Niyet: Niyet is a private nonprofit organization working to improve the living conditions of all children experiencing adversity, including orphans, children with disabilities and children from impoverished families. In 2018, Kazakhstan had about 26,000 orphans and children living without parental supervision. Meeting child support needs can play a significant role in helping to prevent family separations. Sourced from a comprehensive database of underprivileged children, the recipients receive donations from Niyet in the form of cashless support or personalized certificates. Two implemented programs, Food Basket and Road to School, offer these certificates in exchange for food and school supplies at partnered markets and shops. Magnum Cash & Carry is one of the accessible partnered retail stores, with more than 50 outlets in the Almaty region of Kazakhstan.
- ITeachMe: This is a public charity and development center based in Almaty that fights for the labor rights of disabled and vulnerable people. Created in March 2020, the organization teaches digital skills to boost the employability of its beneficiaries and help them better integrate into society. ITeachMe helps in placing young, disadvantaged people on the path to better economic opportunities. With multiple programs and 45 professional courses, the organization asserts that 90% of its graduates go on to secure employment. It delivers its free ITeachMe Program 6.0 in Russian, Kazakh and sign language. Under expert supervision, the educational course delves into programming, project management and more. The OrleTECH Program comprises more than 150 video tutorials and is available to individuals between the ages of 18 and 40 who are interested in learning how to design websites or test software. During the COVID-19 pandemic, ITeachMe provided emergency assistance. Through the support of the U.S. Urgent Action Fund, ITeachMe provided humanitarian aid to 80 underserved people living in cities and rural areas and supplied “life-saving medicines” to 26 people. ITeachMe also provided legal and psychological counsel through chatbots and instant messaging apps, which continue to function to this day.
- Botashym: Botashym is an organization with a focus on medical aid. Established in 2017, its goal is to raise funds to aid orphans, children with cerebral palsy, disadvantaged families and veterans. It provides its services both inside and outside Almaty. Children up to 13 years of age make up the priority demographic for rehabilitation. Whatever the disability, Botsashym informs parents of the latest clinics or treatment methods. Botashym helps to raise the treatment costs for selected children by creating individual profiles with targeted fundraising goals. In 2022, the nonprofit raised enough money to rehabilitate 16 children with different diseases of varying severity. The organization does not require the family of beneficiaries to bear any costs. Through treatment, children can improve both mobility and speech. Botashym is currently developing an Orphans Assistance program.
- Kasietti Zhol Foundation. This Astana-based nonprofit offers free rehabilitation services. Kasietti Zhol’s mission is to provide high-quality rehabilitation for children with cerebral palsy without requiring overseas travel. To accomplish this, the organization holds a worldwide School of Mentors initiative and organizes seminars aimed at educating and training professionals, social workers and parents on the latest rehabilitation methods. As part of its Healthy Children Project, more than 1,000 children received comprehensive rehabilitation at no cost in 2021. The #KazakhstanDoGood project brings awareness to the lack of rehabilitation for disabled children. In 2021, Kazakhstan had only 40 medical rehabilitation centers that were equipped to treat children with disabilities. More than 26,000 children are living with cerebral palsy in the country, yet only 20% manage to access rehabilitation. Families below the poverty line struggle to find treatment and usually have to wait for openings. In some cases, parents opt to leave their children in orphanages. For this reason, Kasietti Zhol opened rehabilitation centers in nine orphanages in Kazakhstan. Four children with special needs found adoptive families after treatment. The #KazakstanDoGood project aims to open 14 rehabilitation centers for children with cerebral palsy. Kasietti Zhol’s president, Gulmira Abeldinova, disclosed that from October 2022 to January 2023, the charity’s rehabilitation center took in 183 children for free rehabilitation. In 2023, it will concentrate on developing ways to address neuro-orthopedic disorders in children.
- Dara Foundation: Dosaeva Gulnar Yesengeldinovna established the Dara Foundation with the aim of enhancing the quality of life for underprivileged children through the creation of more efficient support systems. The foundation seeks to provide better assistance to those in need. The Mentors program offers three levels of mentoring: individual, corporate and coaching. At the corporate level, 34 organizations partner with Dara Foundation to introduce at-risk youth to various professions and offer workshops, internships and scholarships. Currently, there are 15 cities in Kazakhstan hosting the Mentors program and more than 200 orphans have partnered with mentors since 2014. Today, 138 children have finished internships and higher education courses through the Dara Foundation and more than 100 children have received individual coaching.
Many Kazakh children and families still face hardships but ongoing efforts of charities operating in Kazakhstan and the government of Kazakhstan bode signs of better opportunities and progress for the young generation. The results so far are encouraging and paint a positive outlook for the future.
– Clare Calzada