When studying becomes social action

It was all there: 15 boxes filled with unused shirts, winter coats, sweaters and cardigans, sports and winter footwear, trousers, jewellery, bags and many other items of outerwear and underwear. The kind of items that many in great need come to us asking for, the type of things we’re readily able to distribute. And so it was very easy to agree to and take receipt of this large charitable donation of items to Salem Social Village. Over the last 12 years or more, Crossroads in Hong Kong have sent us many containers of items just like this.

But this pile of boxes didn’t come thousands of miles, and it wasn’t sent thanks to the generosity of foreign donors.

This was a local story, that started when two young guys, Shymkent born and bred, began studying English on our courses. Aspiring businessmen, they became managers of two local branches of DeFacto, a Turkish clothing chain well known in the city. In one of their English lessons, they heard about the charitable and social work that goes on at the Social Village – and like many, they hadn’t realised that what we do goes way beyond just teaching English. But it got them thinking.

Over the remainder of their English course, the cogs were turning and ideas were slowly forming. They eventually formulated a plan: they knew there were quality new clothes just sat there in the warehouse, items from previous ranges that hadn’t been sold; so what about not just leaving them there, but giving them away to help the needy people of their city? When they approached us with the idea – well, what could we say?!

Staff in our Care team are currently sorting through the items and preparing to distribute them – something we do on a regular basis; but this time there’s something different, a new excitement in what they’re doing. This is a donation, the very first one, that has come entirely from inspired people in our own city, people who have been influenced with new ideas about social action and who, as a result, have decided to act, and do something about the problems they see.

This is a new season that we are seeing. It’s a small start, but it’s what we’ve been dreaming of – when young people in Kazakhstan begin to stretch out their own hands to their needy brothers and neighbours. As a nation with a reputation for hospitality and generosity nation, the people of Kazakhstan themselves can get busy with not only navigating life’s hardships and challenges, but helping one another along the way.

Those Global Citizens are growing!