SOS Children's Villages started working in Temirtau in 2004 to support families and children in need. It was the third location in Kazakhstan where our organisation became active. We run programmes to help strengthen family ties so that children can stay with their parents, we run a mobile "Playbus", and we provide loving homes for children who have lost parental care.
What we do in Temirtau
Our organisation has been assisting the local population through a holistic and integral package of services: support to vulnerable families, which includes counselling and psychological support, and a mobile play centre and loving homes for children without parental care.
The SOS Social Centre aims to strengthen families where children are at risk of losing parental care. Working closely with local agencies, we provide children with access to education and also to nutritional and health services. Families can access psychological counselling and legal advice. When needed, we also provide households with food parcels or help pay for medical examinations and medicines.
Children who have lost parental care can find a loving home in one of the twelve SOS families, where up to 108 children can be cared for. The children have a lot to do with the neighbouring children as we organise many activities in the area.
In addition we run a Playbus, which is a mobile play centre for children between the ages of three and 16. The Playbus stops off at public parks and hospitals, at orphanages and grey concrete tower blocks. Trained co-workers play with children, using imaginative playing material and educational games to play theatre, to dance, or do crafts with the children. The aim is to develop the children's self-confidence and trust in others.
An increasing rate of HIV/AIDS in the area
The city of Temirtau is situated about 180 kilometres south-east of Astana, the country's capital. The nearest larger city is Karaganda, which is the capital of the Karaganda region. Temirtau is an industrial city with approximately 180,000 inhabitants. The region has undergone economic and social development in recent years, including the modernisation of its industrial base.
However, in spite of these improvements the area's social and economic situation is of great concern. The rate of unemployment is very high and many families live in poverty. As a result of the changing conditions, children often lose parental care and end up being placed into state-run institutions.
The area also has a high number of AIDS and drug-related deaths. Many of those suffering from drug addictions have been in prison or face housing problems. They often risk developing tuberculosis. Children from these families are vulnerable - in most cases they do not attend kindergarten or school and are socially isolated.
Families in need are supported and children are given hope for the future
The conditions in Temirtau make the work of SOS Children's Villages particularly important. The local municipality has been very supportive of the work that our organisation does in the area and donated the plot of land on which the SOS family homes are built.
SOS Children's Villages works very closely with the local community. The children from the SOS families are actively integrated into the local community - they attend the city school and take part in activities such as regional concerts or sports competitions.
As a result of the high levels of HIV/AIDS, it was decided that the target of our family-strengthening programme would be families where either parents or children were infected with, or at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Households with drug and alcohol problems are also supported through the family strengthening programme.