Month: March 2022

“I study and work in the greenhouse”: diary of an Almaty schoolchild

Last year, an unusual project of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation “Green School” was launched in Almaty. Greenhouses where children learn to grow plants came into being at once in 16 schools of the southern capital. We observed the project together with one of the pupils.

Artyom Krivonos studies at gymnasium No. 34 in the sixth grade. He enjoys digital art, loves to weave bijouterie and takes care of his pet lizard Kuki. But more so Artyom likes crop production. Interest in plants appeared in early childhood – he planted a vegetable garden with his grandmother. But the “Green School” project, which was launched in Artyom’s gymnasium and fifteen other schools in Almaty last year, helped strengthen his love for this activity. When Artyom saw that they started building a greenhouse in his educational institution, he could not believe his eyes. Here it is – a chance to learn even more about plant life.

Day one

Today we came to our greenhouse for the first time. It is so big! Our teacher Ekaterina Nikolayevna told us about various plants, and how to take care of them. What I like the most here is drip irrigation. I feel, there is a lot of exciting things ahead of us. Will tell all about this to my parents today.

Artyom and other pupils got involved in the work right after the first excursion. They come to the greenhouse every day – in any free minute they run to see what has changed there. And this despite the fact that crop production is not a compulsory school subject, but an additional activity. Artyom is among the first to oversee the progress and, together with his classmates, notices amazing things.

Day ten

Today we popped in the greenhouse and saw such things! It turned out that when they brought soil they also brought us tenants – digger wasps. We even did not know these existed. Now we collect them using an adhesive tape. In general, we learned so much about pests – it’s so interesting! Apparently, not all chemical agents can be used to control pests, it is necessary to be very careful about this in order not to harm the product. By the way, we already have first sprouts germinating. I am so eager  to see our first harvest.

Artyom shares all his impressions with his parents. And his mother Anastasia admits that participation in such a project has invaluable benefits for her son: “In the current century of gadgets that occupy all the space in a child’s life, such projects are something magical. I believe that children should be involved in work, in nature. And it’s great that it’s so accessible: the child came to school and learned so many exciting things during the school day. Plus, in the cold season, while there is no grandmother’s garden, Artyom practices his skills without being distracted from his studies. When children come into contact with nature, they definitely change, they learn responsibility, they learn through plants to treat the world and people with care.”

Day twenty five

Our greenhouse has changed a lot for this time – it became so green! Most of all I like tending the plants, pot new ones and harvest. But the most interesting is to watch how everything is growing, how a tiny seed gives birth to a large plant that bears fruit. My granny allocated a bed in her vegetable garden for me and I will try and plant strawberry spinach by myself this spring. We shall see how things turn out.

At Artyom’s school, biology teacher Ekaterina Nikolayevna Rozhkova helps the children with the greenhouse. She notes how happy the children are to participate in the project: “Remember how children used to work on the school garden plots? And then this activity was canceled. And it’s great that projects such as the “Green School” are now emerging, which help pupils get used to work. Children, by the way, have a lot of ideas. One of our pupils once asked: like, give me a piece of the greenhouse, I want to grow bananas. And other children brought all sorts of seeds from home to plant in the greenhouse. By the way, we have already harvested cucumbers, basil, cilantro, rocket and spinach. We even preserved two jars of cucumbers.” Harvesting was a big event for Artyom as well.

Day thirty nine

Today I want to mark our main achievement – we have harvested a good 11 kilogrammes of cucumbers! I think this is a cool outcome for a small school greenhouse. And how delicious they are! Each of us tried a cucumber, and the rest of the harvest was given to our canteen. Now we will eat salads prepared of environmentally friendly products in which we are sure. As we have grown them ourselves! Now it’s time to weed out and to seed celery.

“Green School” is a project on the development of environmental friendliness among schoolchildren, therefore, in addition to building and equipping greenhouses, the Foundation developed a whole curriculum, including the invitation of experts. One of the subjects of this curriculum, which has already been implemented in schools, is waste sorting master classes, which were run by professional eco-trainers, representatives of the first zero waste store in Kazakhstan and HelloEco eco-consulting.

“When representatives of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation approached us with the idea of ​​holding a lesson on “garbage”, its format immediately appeared in my head – an interactive lecture with live communication with pupils and a practical master class on waste sorting. We wanted to not just tell and not even just show what garbage is, how it is divided into recyclable and non-recyclable. But also so that each pupil could practice waste sorting on their own, with their own hands,” says HelloEco co-founder and CEO Dina Ogay.

During the interactive lecture, the organisers talked to schoolchildren about what garbage is, how it differs from recycled materials, what happens to waste and why it needs to be sorted. In addition, they held quizzes and demonstrated things made of recycled materials. What is especially important: children were visually shown waste with different labelling, explaining which waste can be recycled and which cannot. The outcome of this master class was a waste sorting relay race.

Dina Ogay

co-founder and CEO of HelloEco:

“For children, this is primarily new information, new neural connections. This is the most important thing – to know, to see, to discover, to understand. They begin to see a causal link: in order to get the notebook in which they write, it is necessary to cut down a tree. If, after use, this notebook goes to a dump, it will harm animals, soil, water and people, and a new tree will have to be cut down. But if this notebook is brought to a collection point and sent for recycling, then it can turn into a new notebook, napkin, toilet paper, box. It will gain new life, and a new tree will not have to be cut down. One master class with properly conveyed information can be an effective turn in the mind of a child.

We held 16 master classes, in which more than 500 pupils participated.

And there was no single lesson where the children did not know that a plastic bottle decomposes up to five hundred years, and a glass one up to a thousand years! There was no single pupil who did not understand the meaning of the word “dump”. During the relay practice, the children themselves could sort the waste and separate the recyclable materials to be sent for recycling. We have prepared a poster cheat sheet for them to make it easier to find the correct material marking. But the guys managed the task even without it! At this age, real awareness is emerging in children. After all, they are the ones who will inherit the result of our life and actions today. I am glad to be a part of this story and make my small contribution. This is yet another link in the faith that humanity has a “green” future.”

The master classes were also attended by teachers who saw the interest of the children and appreciated the practical benefits of such classes. Here is what the class teacher of the 5th “A” class of gymnasium school No. 168, Ainagul Topayeva, says:

“Such initiatives are undoubtedly important, because they bring up careful attitude to nature and respect for work. This is very interesting and useful information, even I, a teacher, heard some things for the first time. What else can be done so that our children grow up as conscious people? I think it needs a separate subject. If such classes are held at least twice a week – lessons, conversations, discussions in the form of a game – that will be good. Besides, in this way we educate not only children, but also their parents – pupils come home and share their impressions with moms and dads. This is such a simple step that will help us solve a global problem. And I think it’s quite doable, it’s just a matter of time.”

What will happen to the “Green School” project next? Firstly, schools in Almaty, that already have greenhouses, will continue to build on this trend. Secondly, by the beginning of the new academic year, 20 greenhouses will be installed and equipped in the capital – work is already underway to design greenhouses and select schools. In a year, another 20 greenhouses will appear in Shymkent. And then, we hope, all schools in Kazakhstan will be gradually covered, and each of them will have its own corner of nature, which children will take care of.


Masters and apprentices

Kazakhstani tennis player Alexander BUBLIK became an author of a big sensation at the large tournament in Indian Wells. He won over the two-time Olympic champion, the winner of three Grand Slam tournaments, ex-World No 1 Briton Andy MURRAY!

It took the Kazakhstani less than two hours to defeat the world tennis star. For this time, Bublik served 11 aces, made 6 double faults and converted 1 of 5 break points. The duel score was 7:6 (11:9), 6:3. You can see from these dry figures that the real rumble took place in the first set, especially in the tie-break. Alexander himself confirmed this too.

“If you win the tie-break with a score of 11:9, it means a lot. It was a great battle!” Bublik said.

But, according to him, if Murray were younger, then it would be much more difficult to defeat him. To remind, the famous Briton is now 34 years old, and the Kazakhstani is 24.

But one must admit that Bublik recently often pleased us with sensational results. For example, in February, he became the winner of the ATP Open Sud de France tournament in Montpellier, beating world No. 3 Alexander ZVEREV from Germany in the final. And most recently, in the qualifying round of the Davis Cup, he defeated the eighth racket of the world, Norwegian Casper RUUD, thus ensuring the victory of the Kazakhstan national team. In the third round of the tournament in Indian Wells, the Kazakhstani will meet with Bulgarian Grigor DIMITROV.

Andrey GOLUBEV too made it to the 1/8 finals of the American “Masters”. Paired with Alexander Zverev, they beat British Daniel EVANS and Russian Karen KHACHANOV – 7:5, 6:3. The next opponents of the Kazakh-German duo will be Salvadorian Marcelo AREVALO and Netherlander Jean-Julien ROJER. Unfortunately, Mikhail KUKUSHKIN left the tournament in California. The Kazakhstani lost to American Tommy PAUL – 4:6, 4:6.

And at the Women’s Masters in Indian Wells, Elena RYBAKINA defeated the winner of the WTA 250 Astana Open 2021, Belgian Alison Van UYTVANCK – 6:1, 7:5. In the third round of the BNP Paribas Open competition, our athlete will play with cool Belarusian Victoria AZARENKO.


Another Kazakhstani tennis player, Yulia Putintseva, has already zipped up her racket bag. In the second round of the tournament in Indian Wells, Yulia lost in a difficult three-set duel to Victorija GOLUBIC from Switzerland – 3:6, 6:2, 4:6.

By the way, it became known that the rival of the women’s tennis team of Kazakhstan at the Billie Jean King Cup will be the German team. The match will be held on 15-16 April 2022 in Nur-Sultan. The winner will advance to the final stage of the tournament, which will take place at the end of the year. To remind, the team of Kazakhstan qualified for the Billie Jean King Cup after winning the playoffs over the Argentines.

It is interesting that the games with the Germans will take place on a specially created clay surface in the hall of the National Tennis Centre (NTC).

“The NTC was chosen not by chance,” – says the vice-president of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation, Yuri POLSKY. “We have very good statistics on the capital’s courts, where our teams consistently defeat eminent rivals, including teams from Switzerland, Argentina, Japan, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands and many others. Kazakh players approach matches at home with special responsibility. Thanks to the quality preparation and support of our beloved fans and native walls, we have already won 20 matches played at home, which is an amazing statistic. We will do our best to keep this trend sustained.

All these big victories in tennis are won for Kazakhstan by former Russian players. However, we also have our own homegrown little stars. So, 13-year-old Zangar NURLANULY became the absolute champion of the second category in the Baseline Open U14 2022 Tennis Europe series in Slovakia. In the final, the Kazakhstani in a three-set dramatic match defeated Slovenian Zigo SHESHKO – 3:6, 6:2, 7:6 (7:1). This is his fifth European singles title now! Interestingly, in a duet with this same Sheshko, our Nurlanuly celebrated the victory in doubles, beating Chinese Yanghong LI and Czech Jan RASTITSA – 6:2, 7:5.


“Of course, I will celebrate the victory, but it’s not the time to relax – we must continue working. I will rest a little, and then I intend to play in a super category tournament in Portugal. Then, as part of the national team, I will go to India, where we will play qualifying matches for the Junior World Championship. Playing for the national team is very obliging for me. My national team debut will be one of those moments that I will remember for the rest of my life,” Zangar Nurlanuly admitted to the KTF press service.


Autism centre in Uralsk will have capacity to support over 600 children a year

An Assyl Miras autism centre to support children with autistic spectrum disorders opened in Uralsk at a new address: 102 Samal street.

The premises of 675 square metres were allocated by the Akimat (administration) of the West Kazakhstan Oblast. Intervention programmes in the new centre will cover over 600 children a year.

The Akim of the West Kazakhstan Oblast, Gani Iskaliyev, visited the new centre to see its equipment and to talk to tutors and parents. He noted the importance of such a centre for the region and highly appreciated the efforts paid by Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation to build the system of effective support of children with autism in Kazakhstan.

The first Assyl Miras autism centre in Uralsk was opened in 2018 in partnership with the public association Baiterek– an organisation that has been engaged in the work with disabled children for over 10 years. For four years, Baiterek specialists have learnt modern efficient techniques of correction of autism and have been actively introducing the gained knowledge to help families. As the quality of diagnosis improves and the rate of detecting autism at an early age increases, there is a need to expand the activities of the autism centre.

“We are grateful to the Akimat of the West Kazakhstan Oblast for their assistance in establishment of a new modern centre. On our part, we guarantee maintenance of the high quality of services provided to children and their parents. We chose specialists thoroughly. All specialists of the centre were trained in Assyl Miras work methods that are scientifically proven. The effectiveness of the methods is proven by many years of experience in the network of our autism centres in Kazakhstan,” said Marat Aitmagambetov, director of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation.

The “Autism. One World for All” programme has been implemented by Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation since 2015. For this time, 10 centres were opened, where more than 11 thousand children have already received qualified assistance completely free of charge. The Foundation collaborates with international ASD experts, such as the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta and the Kasari Lab at the University of California, to ensure that Kazakh children have access to the world’s best practices.


Men’s tennis team of Kazakhstan: for the third time in the top class

Kazakhstani tennis players made it through to the group stage of the Davis Cup

After the International Tennis Federation (ITF) changed the format of the Davis Cup in 2019, the men’s team of Kazakhstan took part in the final tournament twice: they took the final 10th place in 2019 in Madrid, and two years later, also in Madrid, they made it to the quarterfinals (the tournament was not held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). And now, after their confident victory in Oslo over the Norwegians, we are waiting for the third trial among the 16 best teams in the world.

2-1 before the meeting of the leaders

The duels of the first playing day, in which the first rackets of the national teams of Norway and Kazakhstan opposed the second numbers of these teams, quite naturally ended in confident victories for the leaders: World No. 8  Casper Ruud outplayed Mikhail Kukushkin (No. 160) with a score of 6:1, 6:4, and Alexander Bublik (No. 32) restored the balance in the match, just as confidently taking over Viktor Durasovich (No. 321) – 6:3, 6:2.

Now a lot depended on the outcome of the doubles meeting, which preceded the two singles in the second day programme. We had announced (and there were no surprises here) Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov, who played well cohesively for a long time, the 27th and 65th rackets of the world in doubles. However, the captain (head coach) of the hosts, Anders Haaseth, brought a surprise by pairing Durasovich with not the originally announced Ruud, but with Simen Sunde Bratholm. Making a kind of a birthday gift to the player who turned 23 the day before.

I confess that Bratholm was for me the most mysterious character out of all the Norwegian players. Yes, tall – 188 cm, yes, he is the ambassador of Aktiv mot kreft, the Norwegian cancer foundation, but why the ATP website dates his last activity as February 2018, when in the Davis Cup match against the Egyptians he lost to Mohamed Safwat, well-known to our fans, and, paired with Durasovich, lost to the duet of Safwat/Hossam? A quick search on the Internet showed that in the same year, Simen Sunde entered the Northwestern University in Chicago (USA) to combine serious studies with training and performances in student tournaments under the auspices of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association).

By the way, this is how many tennis players do it – first getting an education, and then going into the pros. For example, from the biographical information on the WTA website of 2022 Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins, you can find out that after transferring from the University of Florida to the University of Virginia after her first year, the American won the US student singles championship twice – in 2014 and 2016.

But let’s go back to the pair duel. The game began – and it turned out that Bratholm and Durasovich by no means effaced themselves in front of Golubev and Nedovyesov. Moreover, on the very first serve of Aleksandr, they made a break and soon took the lead with a score of 4:1. Durasovich was especially good at these moments, having “warmed up” quite well the day before. So our captain Yuri Schukin had to make adjustments to the game of his former partners and nowadays mentees. They began to play aggressively, began going to the net together more often and managed to respond with a break on Bratholm’s serve – 4:4.

It came to a tie-break – and this put everyone over the edge. Having played back from 1:4 and 3:5, our guys did not convert two set points: with the score 6:5 on the opponent serve and 7:6 on their own. Immediately, Nedovyesov makes a double mistake – and now the Norwegians miss the chance to take the first game twice in a row. Only from the 4th set ball Aleksandr, with the most powerful smash, puts the winning point in this game – 7:6 (12:10). This set lasted more than an hour (65 minutes) – this is too much for a doubles meet.

In the second set, the advantage of our pair was already very tangible: having led with a score of 3:0, Andrey and Aleksandr calmly brought to victory both the game – 6:3, and the meet as a whole. That’s the seventh victory of this duo in 11 Davis Cup meets!

2-1 – our guys led before the meeting of the leaders.

PHOTO: © Espen Hildrup ( Playing – Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov

Impeccable Bublik

In early February, Alexander Bublik won his first title, having literally destroyed the third racket of the world German Alexander Zverev – 6:4, 6:3, in the final of the tournament in French Montpellier. Even then, I was struck by how calm, I would even say, to the point of phlegm, Sasha was, especially against the background of an excited opponent, who kept having arguments with the umpire.

Yet the outcome of the meeting with the first racket of the hosts caused some reasonable fears. After all, the 23-year-old Casper Ruud, although he is considered a recognized master of playing on clay courts (he won six out of seven titles on clay and only one on the hard court, last year in San Diego, USA), is also quite successful on hard courts. Moreover, under the roof of Oslo Tennisarena one of the slowest varieties of Plexipave hard surface is laid – an analogue of what is used in San Diego and Indian Wells.

Watching Ruud’s matches, one cannot fail to notice the similarity of his game with the game of Rafael Nadal. And this is not a coincidence, because Casper is a non-standard Norwegian: he does not like the cold and winter sports, especially as after his first victories in “futures” and “challenges” he started to spend a lot of time at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca, training there under the guidance of Pedro Clar-Rossello and his own father Christian Ruud, ex-World No.39.

It was Clar-Rossello who enriched the already rich technical arsenal of the Norwegian with Rafa’s main trump card – a twisted top spin from the forehand. And the great Spaniard himself often acts as a sparring partner for Casper: “Every time I arrive at Nadal’s academy, we mingle great with him. I confess that Rafa has helped me a lot in recent years. My achievements are largely his merit, this is obvious,” quotes Ruud’s words Tennis Head, one of the most popular tennis publications in the world.

PHOTO: © Espen Hildrup ( Alexander Bublik

However, Alexander Bublik started the duel with Ruud as if there had never been three defeats in three matches in the history of their relationship. First of all, I was surprised by the aggressive style of the game, which can be seen both in the number of actively won balls (winners) – 25 vs. 16, and in the points won after net approaches – 8 out of 13 vs. 2 out of 4. And how not to mention Sasha’s signature move – ace on the second serve! Until the score was 4:4, Casper, not without problems though, kept his serve, but could not withstand the pressure in the ninth game: he won the first break point after a double fault, but on the second one he again made a fault twice on the serve. Serving the set, Bublik was cold-blooded, and with a score of 40:15 he played in the Serve-and-Volley style – serving and approaching the net, the last brightest representative of which was American Pete Sampras. 6:4 – our tennis player took the lead.

The second game developed according to the same scenario: Ruud was taking his serve not without problems, Sasha was easily bouncing back. Until the very end when his first serve failed. And with a score of 5:6, he did not manage to win back.

All the more surprising was the beginning of the deciding third game: again Ruud was the first to serve – and immediately Bublik made a break! With the score 1:2, the Norwegian turns to the umpire, Eva Asderaki-Moore, and takes a medical time-out – as it seemed, due to problems with the abdominal muscles. Although this did not greatly affect his further actions, Alexander continued to confidently break his serve. However, it was alarming that, having led 4:2, our tennis player practically stopped clinging to the opponent’s serve, preferring to save strength for his own. And now the score is 5:4, Sasha serves for the match, starts with an ace, the 14th in a row, then alternates points from the first serve with double faults, and on the very first match point he enters the court from the serve and, with all his strength, twists from the forehand the ball received by Ruud softly. 6:4, 5:7, 6:4 – it’s a victory.

PHOTO: © Twitter@DavisCup This is how fans of the Kazakhstan national team express their support

The duel of the second numbers was not needed. 3-1 – the Kazakhstan national team won a landslide victory away and got a ticket to the group stage of the final tournament.

I would like to note the work of the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation in organizing support for our tennis players: in the stands of Oslo Tennisarena, six dozen fans in the colors of the national flag of Kazakhstan were clearly visible and audible, among which, traditionally, a small but very well-coordinated vocal and instrumental ensemble stood out, conducted by Marat Baimukhametov ,Erlan Bekishev and Alina Vitova.

PHOTO: © Twitter@DavisCup All 15 finalists of the Davis Cup – 2022

Write 15 and carry 1 over

To remind, from 14 to 18 September  in four cities (to be defined later), 16 national teams will determine the top eight teams, which from 23 to 27 November will, in a knockout system, bring to light the winner of the Davis Cup – the 2022 world champion.

So, who has been added to the national teams of Croatia, the 2021 finalist and No. 1 in the rankings as of 1 March, and of Serbia (No. 11) and Great Britain (No. 8) getting the wild cards?

Here are the results of the qualifying matches: France (No. 3) – Ecuador – 4-0, Spain (No. 2) – Romania – 3-1, Finland – Belgium (No. 10) – 2-3, USA (No. 4) – Colombia – 4 -0, Netherlands (No. 20) – Canada – 4-0, Brazil – Germany (No. 5) – 1-3, Slovakia – Italy (No. 7) – 2-3, Australia (No. 15) – Hungary – 3-2 , Norway – KAZAKHSTAN (No. 9) – 1-3, Sweden (No. 13) – Japan – 3-2, Argentina (No. 12) – Czech Republic – 4-0, South Korea (No. 21) – Austria – 3-1.

The participation of Russia (No. 14), the 2021 world champion, temporarily suspended from all tournaments under the auspices of the ITF due to aggression in Ukraine, remains in question.


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