There are more and more people willing to help every year

Our guest today is Sofiya Imanbayeva, Vice President of the Children’s Development Foundation, a 4th-year student majoring in “Mathematics” at the NU School of Sciences and Humanities. Sofiya told us about the projects that are being implemented by the Children’s Development Foundation and about caring people who support social initiatives and students’ undertakings.

Every year before the onset of cold weather your public foundation organized the Warm. Tell us about how it is being implemented this year due to the new conditions and quarantine restrictions?

Indeed, Warm Winter is a project that starts annually, in anticipation of the onset of cold weather, and which has already become a good tradition for the entire NU community. And this year, a project aimed at providing children from socially vulnerable groups with warm winter clothes was launched for the seventh time.

The idea of ​​the project is that any person can take part in the project by gathering a group of people who will help to fully prepare one child for winter (warm clothes, boots, etc.) who needs help. Each group is assisted by student coordinators. Assistance is also provided in the form of buying groceries, necessary household appliances and, if necessary, providing coal for the winter.

In general, from 2014 to 2017, 337 children from 117 families were provided with warm clothes thanks to our project; in 2018, 140 children from 40 families were assisted in preparing for winter. Last year, 228 children from 68 families received the necessary support in the form of winter clothing and food from the project participants, including, in addition to students, teachers, graduates, employees of our university and its subsidiaries.

This year, due to the transition to distance learning, due to the fact that Nazarbayev University students are located in different cities, the scope of the project has been significantly expanded and launched in five cities of Kazakhstan: Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Karaganda, Aktau and Kostanay. The lists of families in need were provided to us by the Dobryakov Club Charitable Foundation.

Our student club members supervise coordinators from different cities who, in turn, help groups of people who want to help prepare children for winter. In case there are people who want to contribute to the project, but cannot participate themselves due to any obstacles (being in other cities, problems with creating a group, etc.), they can transfer funds to the account of the main organizer project and part-time member of our public fund. Our team will go shopping themselves and then take everything to families in need. We will also post all reports from mobile applications of banks on transactions and receipts from purchases of clothes on our social networks to ensure transparency of this process.

According to preliminary calculations, this year about 160 children from different parts of Kazakhstan will receive assistance in the form of winter clothing and food.

What other projects are being implemented by your public foundation?

In addition to our Warm Winter project, since 2011 we have also been organizing a free Mentoring program for children from socially vulnerable groups. During the first three years of the project, our team worked with the Orphanage for Minors and helped 56 children. Thanks to our program, over 10 children entered universities in the first three years. Since 2015, our program has begun to focus on children from low-income families. Every weekend, students organized and conducted courses where volunteers taught mathematics, English and logic to students in grades 5-6, as well as chemistry, biology and physics for students in grades 10-11.

In 2018-2019, 64 students graduated from our program (53 sixth-graders and 11 eleventh graders). 8 out of 11 graduates won a grant to study in Kazakhstani universities and the remaining three entered on a paid basis.

Due to the transition to online learning in March this year, we were forced to temporarily suspend our Mentoring project. In July, we launched our project again, but now it is completely online. Our mentors teach small group lessons on Zoom / Skype / WhatsApp twice a week and help with preparation at NIS, BIL, RPhMS, as well as in local and foreign universities. At the moment we have 23 students from 6th and 11th grades, who are taught by 39 mentors.

In addition, since 2017, our public foundation has been organizing the Garage Sale – a sale of things that were donated by the university community to charity and are in good condition. The fair sells books, stationery, jewellery, watches, hats, scarves, electronic devices and more. We periodically invite various shops to participate in the fair. During these three years, we have collected about 3.4 million tenge, which donated for the treatment of people in need of medical services.

Unfortunately, this year, due to quarantine and related restrictions during the pandemic, the project will not be carried out. But in the future, we plan to renew it in order to be able to provide support to those who need our help.

In general, I would like to note that every year the number of people who are ready to lend a helping hand to those in need of support is growing, but the geography of the distribution of such assistance is expanding, covering other regions of the country through our students and alumni. And today, on behalf of the Children’s Development Foundation, I would like to express my gratitude to all caring people who support the implementation of our projects!