Succes Stories

Succes Stories (6)

We All Have a Choice

Written by Wednesday, 19 July 2017 07:22 Published in Succes Stories 0

Community Foundation “ZUBR” is changing lives and promoting positive choices through integrated special services for vulnerable individuals and families, with support from the Good Governance Initiative Fund.

Evgeniya, from Stepnogorsk, Kazakhstan, believed that her childhood was the ‘worst-case’ scenario. “Disfunctional family seemed to be our permanent status,” says Evgeniya. "I live with my mother. After my father died many years ago, I lived in pretty poor conditions, but I still loved my mother very much (which I am only now beginning to understand). However, in return I only received insults and disagreements.” Evgeniya was often left alone at home, and had trouble connecting with her classmates at school. She didn’t want to go home after school and felt more comfortable on the streets. When teachers offered to help, she refused, for fear that the whole school would found out.

Oksana Volkova-Mikhalskaya, project coordinator for “ZUBR” in Stepnogorsk, described the challenges she observed when she first met Evgeniya’s family.“Their situation didn’t improve for a long time because the mother needed to resolve a number of issues independently, but she couldn’t ‘get around to it’. It was during this time that the child drifted further and further away, under daily psychological pressure from her mother.”

One day a social worker at school told Evgeniya about a group of local specialists that could help her family with integrated social services. Evgeniya convinced her mother to meet with the team of specialists. “They talked to her not about the problems we were going to have, but about the opportunities we have to make our lives better. They explained to us about the benefits we could receive for having lost the breadwinner in our family, how we could both undergo a psychological evaluation, and about other specialists who could help us. I was so excited when my mother agreed to get help for both of us!”

The interagency social service team provided Evgeniya and her mother with timely and professional psychological and legal support, and eventually helped them find a way out of their critical situation. The team was created through the initiative of non-profit community foundation “ZUBR”, and brings together representatives of the Departments of Social Protection, Education, Public Health, and Law Enforcement to ensure that vulnerable citizens receive coordinated, efficient, and effective public support when they need it most.

Now, Evgeniya receives free meals at school, and her mother is registered for unemployment benefits and is currently attending a job-training course. “Svetlana and Evgeniya have their whole lives ahead of them, but it is important that they know the right path from the wrong path,” notes Oksana. “This way, the choice is theirs.”  

Integrated special social service teams are promoting positive choices for vulnerable citizens across Kazakhstan - a total of 13 inter-agency teams have been established to date in Astana, Almaty, and five regions of Kazakhstan. Their work is made possible by theGood Governance Initiative Fund, a project of the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia, with the financial support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The Fund awards grants to traditionally underserved CSOs in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan to improve governance practice through improved public service delivery, public policy, and legislation.

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For Murat Nurgozhin of Pavlodar, Kazakhstan, a health issue trig-gered a downward spiral into social vulnerability. “In 2007, I had a heart attack, which left me with a Class 2 disability, unable to work. As a result, my family fell apart, and now I spend one-third of my pension on child support.” Murat lived at the train station for years, until the local government allocated him a room on the fifth floor of a local dormitory, where he struggled to climb up and down the stairs. On his small pension, Murat had barely enough money for medicine, food, and child support, and amassed hundreds of dollars of debt in utility costs.

Last year a pilot inter-agency team of social support specialists heard about Murat through his social worker, and team members reached out to offer assistance. The team coordinator in the city of Pavlodar, Bakhyt Kalinovna Aktayeva, describes the compounded challenges Murat faced at that time. “Marat was in a very difficult place financially. Because of his utilities debt, the bank card with his pension had been blocked and his electricity had been turned off. For several days he sat in the dark without food or groceries.”

The team went to work to get Murat back on his feet. “The special-ists provided consultations on all of the issues which concern me, and explained different benefits available to me due to my disability. They gave a full answer to each of my questions, and provided ad-vice on how to best move forward,” said Murat.

Through their coordinated efforts, the team was able to reduce the utilities debt, purchase groceries, and even buy Murat a mobile tele-phone to help him stay in contact with his social worker. “Most im-portantly, I was finally able to take the steps I needed to solve these issues”, says Murat. “This new approach is certainly better!” The team is working to help Murat become financially independent - in January 2017, they registered him with the Center for Employment to find a job which best meets his needs.

The pilot team for integrated social services in Pavlodar is a project of the non-profit community foundation “ZUBR”, which has estab-lished a total of 13 inter-agency teams in Astana, Almaty, and five regions of Kazakhstan. Each team brings together representatives of the Departments of Social Protection, Education, Public Health, and Law Enforcement to ensure that vulnerable citizens receive coordi-nated, efficient, and effective public support when they need it most.

The new approach to integrated special social services for people in difficult life situations brings together specialists from diverse spheres to provide comprehensive and coordinated services with re-duced bureaucratic barriers. The integrated approach not only results in quicker access to services and solutions for people like Murat, but also ensures that recommendations and referrals from specialists directly respond to a diverse range of social and economic challenges.

The project is made possible by the Good Governance Initiative Fund, implemented by the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia, with the financial support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The Fund awards grants to traditionally underserved CSOs in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan to improve governance practice through improved public service delivery, public policy, and legislation.

 

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Community organization “Kuat” is partnering with the Ministry of Health to ensure that every citizen of Kazakhstan has access to the information and support they need to live a full and healthy life.

As many as half a million citizens of Kazakhstan[1] are living with Hepatitis, a contagious liver disease which can lead to life-long complications if not properly treated. Treatment for the disease is available free of charge through a government program, yet too many citizens are unable to overcome bureaucratic barriers to access treatment, putting them at risk for long-term health problems and uncontrolled transmission of the disease.

When Elena, 32, was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2014, she didn’t know where to turn for support. “At the hospital I asked who I could talk to and where I could go for treatment, but I couldn’t get a clear answer. Fortunately, I met activists from the community organization “Kuat”, who told me that there is a way out of my situation. It turns out that they work with the USAID/EFCA project “Hepatitis – Minus”.

The goal of project “Hepatitis Minus” is to reduce the prevalence of Hepatitis C through advocacy for changes in the public service delivery system in East Kazakhstan Oblast. The project includes training for health service provisions, a large-scale community awareness-raising campaign, as well as informational workshops, counseling, and legal assistance for people affected by HIV.

“[“Kuat”] convinced me that hepatitis is treatable, and that I could still live a full life,” says Elena. “At that time I wasn’t able to receive free treatment, but I also couldn’t afford expensive therapy on my own. Thanks to the project, I was able to receive consultations and treatment for this disease at no cost.”

The project targets members of society’s most vulnerable groups, who are at high-risk for stigma and discrimination in service provision. Alexander, 35, did not receive treatment for his Hepatitis even after he was diagnosed. “When I found out that I had Hepatitis C, I was immediately denied free treatment because I was an intravenous drug user. Three years flew by this way! My “unsolvable” problem, as many called it, was actually easily solved. Some acquaintances introduced me to the team from the community organization “Kuat”, and they told me about the project in East Kazakhstan, USAID/EFCA’s “Hepatitis Minus”. It is only thanks to the activists on the project and their work that I was able to receive free treatment. Now I am completely healthy – I don’t have hepatitis. A huge thank you to the project and the people that support it!”

“Kuat” has also partnered with the Ministry of Health of Kazakhstan to establish a new working group on Hepatitis issues, which will promote greater coordination of regional and national prevention and treatment efforts. The Ministry of Health has also demonstrated interest in the development of a Road Map for Fighting Hepatitis in Kazakhstan.

The organization is also planning to create a public fund for Hepatitis C in order to help more people like Elena and Alexander receive support and assistance. The organization recently launched a new website on the disease, www.hepatit.kz, to ensure that information is widely accessible to the public.


[1] 2015 estimate, “Hepatitis C in Eastern Europe and Central Asia”, Alliance Centre for HIV, Hepatitis C and Drug Use www.aidsalliance.org.ua/ru/news/pdf/...2015/EECA%20HCV%20EN.pdf

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The akim of Almaty supports people with disabilities!

Written by Saturday, 18 February 2017 15:32 Published in Succes Stories 0

A disability is not a sentence. Some people with disabilities need to work, because making ends meet on disability benefits can be very difficult. But getting to work can be a challenge -  both physically and financially.

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“The Methadone Program is part of a harm reduction program designed to decrease addiction of drug-users to serious psychoactive substances, to improve their physical and psychological state, to help them return to society and to their families, and to reduce crime and the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases.

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For Nadezhda, the challenges of an HIV diagnosis were made worse by the discrimination she experienced from doctors and nurses at her local hospital. In spite of hospital confidentiality policies, her diagnosis was discussed openly by staff members, and her medical records were marked with red ink. Stigmatized and embarrassed, Nadezhda stopped going to the hospital for treatment.

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