We walk along the morning snow-covered street of the private sector of Aralsk. The frost burns my cheeks, but I endure it – I volunteered to help. Because of the mask, glasses fog up, all the time you want to pull it up, but you can’t.
«Almost here. Right here around the corner. The smoke is not coming from the chimney, – my partner anxiously raises his eyes to the sky -We’ll check it now».
Shoulders on the gate and it swings open. In the yard, wagging his tail, we are met by Charlie, a black-haired pooch. Charlie does not bark, apparently recognized the guest. But it sniffs at me with caution.
«That’s us, Charlie!» - Yerkebulan says, and knocks on the door. A couple of minutes later, a dull sound will be heard outside the door: «Who?»
«Volunteers, grandpa! We came to see you, we brought the groceries. Are you OK?».
We hear how the latch moves back and the door opens.
«Welcome kids! Thank you, thank you. Don’t worry, - smiles, says the owner of the house.Come inside!» It is evident that the owner is glad to have guests.
Talzhan grandpa lives alone in his house. He is a war veteran, turning 95 in July.
«I am very glad that there are volunteers. I don’t have much strength and energy, I’m old. And the guys come and help to remove the snow in winter, in the summer they also put things in order. Groceries are brought. But this is not the main thing. I feel care and attention to myself, I know that they always remember about me», says grandpa.
«We have 700 veterans and home front workers in Aralsk. We are 35 volunteers here. We try to help everyone whenever possible. Grocery baskets, medicines, household help - all this is part of our work», Yerkebulan says.
Yerkebulan Ayaganov is a volunteer of the «Zhenis» social project. works as a deputy head for production of the Sekseul operational locomotive depot of JSC «NC KTZ». I recently joined volunteering and did not expect to get involved so quickly.
«Thanks to this project, we express our gratitude to our heroes. Their every word is a commandment. Because we have the opportunity to meet face to face with the witnesses of the bloody war, left in the pages of history, and hear their stories from their lips. This is a really valuable experience», says Yerkebulan.
After handing over the groceries and having a little talk with Talzhan grandpa, we continue our raid.
«Volunteers visit the elderly on weekends, outside of working hours. Now the veterans and their relatives recognize us, but before, it happened that they were not allowed in. It is understandable, they are worried about safety. Therefore, we wear special identification shirt-fronts», Yerkebulan continues.
The guy admits that volunteering has become his mission.
«I am learning a lot and am glad that I came to this project. Now I have already been entrusted with the coordination of the whole district - this is a great responsibility», the volunteer notes.
Within the framework of the project «Zhenis» he cooperates with both local executive bodies and volunteer networks and non-governmental organizations. Thanks to the project, he traveled to all the villages of the district, got acquainted personally with WWII veterans and home front workers, while the young man made a list of their needs, conducted an analysis of the satisfaction and standard of living of the elderly.
The charitable project «Zhenis» is aimed at providing targeted assistance to veterans and is implemented by the Fund for the Development of Social Projects «Samruk-Kazyna Trust» and the CF «Fund for Social Projects under «KTZ» JSC on behalf of the group of companies «Samruk-Kazyna» JSC. Volunteers of the project are both employees of the group of companies and other Kazakhstanis.
In total, 4,710 raids were organized in 35 cities in which the project operates, and 1,867 veterans and home front workers were involved. More than 550 volunteers have been involved in the implementation of the charitable project across the country.
Today we walked around two courtyards. We learned how veterans and workers live. There are becoming less and less of them, and therefore taking care of them is more and more valuable.
The initiators plan to take the «Zhenis» project to a new level, develop it further, reach out to veterans and home front workers who were not included in the project's perimeter in 2020, include new settlements, analyze the well-being of older people and identify special needs. Also, within the framework of the «Zhenis» project, new team members will be trained.