Many people used to associate the Foundation’s activities with the medical sector because of the large-scale principal project “Autism. One world for all” and the Burabike festival. But recently some important public initiatives were announced in other fields as well: reconstruction of public space, support of cultural projects, humanitarian aid and assistance to socially vulnerable young people.
Reconstruction of the Botanical Garden
In 2018 Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation allocated about 15 million dollars for the project of infrastructure renovation of the Central Botanical Garden in Almaty. Major works will be completed by the end of 2019. Employees of the Institute of Botany and Phytointroduction asked for assistance. Lack of financing led to the plant irrigation system becoming unserviceable, the infrastructure turning obsolete, the garden’s green resources decreasing, scope for scientific research and performance of the educational function diminishing considerably.
A lot was done within a year: a press tour of the garden and public discussions of the proposed concept of reconstruction were held, feedback from city inhabitants and activists was received, a schematic design, whereby works will start as soon as in spring 2019, was presented and agreed.
“Our main principle in this project is “to do no harm”. Footpaths, water reservoirs, plants will stay where they are. We will create an environment for preservation of the botanical garden’s uniqueness and will make it more modern-day,” says Yelizaveta Dyomina, the Foundation’s Communications Manager. – “We are doing everything in the most transparent and open way, take decisions together with the city inhabitants, activists and international experts”.
“The Botanical Garden is a scientific organisation and a specially protected natural territory. That is why the garden will have a special lighting system – bottom-up, a special watering system – via aryks (irrigation ditches), all footpaths will be made of natural materials – gravel, and parterres at the entrances will be made of glass so that they wouldn’t block the view. The garden will become accessible for low mobility people, and the cognitive function will be delivered via a mobile application,” says Foundation Director Marat Aitmagambetov.
Assistance in preservation of cultural heritage
Cooperation with the Batyrkhan Shukenov Foundation became another long-term project of the outgoing year. Its purpose is to preserve the heritage of the famed artist, to support young talented Kazakhstani musicians. For the first year of this cooperation Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation supported four initiatives:
- Award of five scholarships of 500,000 tenge each to talented students of the Chair of Wind and Percussion Instruments, National Conservatoire;
- Preparation and publication of the printed music collection of Batyr’s Kazakh songs;
- Organisation of the Republican Contest for Wood-Winders named after Batyrkhan Shukenov, with a prize fund of 5,250,000 tenge;
- Preparation of a gift CD and DVD edition featuring the entire solo legacy of Batyr. This project is being implemented jointly with Artemiy Lebedev’s studio and will be announced in 2019.
To effect these four initiatives, 70 mln tenge were allocated in the outgoing year. Cooperation will continue in 2019, the Foundation will allocate some more 51 mln tenge, ensuring scholarships will be granted not to five but to ten talented students, and the Republican Contest will cover not only wood-wind instruments but brass ones too.
“All that we are striving for in this cooperation is to bring up a new progressive generation of Kazakhstanis with whom you want to live in one country, and to form an adequate cultural environment here. For this, I have returned from Moscow. The same was done by uncle Batyr and my father at their time. It is great that here our vision and the Foundation’s vision tie together. Both they and us are disposed to the long-term cooperation – for 5, for 10 years ahead,” says Nargiz Shukenova, Director of the Batyrkhan Shukenov Foundation.
Distribution of bank cards among river flood sufferers
River floods at the beginning of spring 2018 caused most damage to the East Kazakhstan Oblast. Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation, in cooperation with the Red Crescent Society of Kazakhstan and Fortebank, managed to render targeted assistance to 863 families in 20 localities. The Red Crescent staff gave people 82 mln tenge using an innovation method – bank cards.
“We thought this method of rendering humanitarian aid would be more targeted. Some need medicines, some – warm clothes, and some – food. In line with our project, representatives of the Red Crescent Society give Fortebank cards to every family and we transfer aid in the amount 30,000 tenge per person. Every family can use this money to buy whatever exactly they need,” says Marat Aitmagambetov.
WeArt centre for creative education of youth
The high level of youth unemployment is a pressing issue in Kazakhstan. According to data of the Committee on Statistics under the RoK Ministry of National Economy, there are more unemployed young people in Almaty rather than in other regions – 19.3% of the total figure nationwide.
In 2018 Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation took part in setting up the WeArt project – centre of creative education of young people from orphanages, low-income and multi-child families. Besides the Foundation, the project was supported by the Narxoz University and the DAR Ecosystem tech company. The grant amount comprised 21 mln tenge. This money was used to buy equipment, to renovate premises and to hire qualified teachers. In 2018 youngsters were taught free of charge in modern technologies of video editing and internet marketing. Teachers included, for example, graduates of the New York Film Academy. In 2019 the WeArt organisers plan to add culinary and design courses and to begin admitting for training people with special needs.
“It is important that right from the beginning WeArt has been selecting those professions where they can slot their graduates into jobs,” says Yelizaveta Dyomina.
Support of children with ASD
In 2018 the Foundation also did not overlook projects aimed at the health care of Kazakhstanis. The major project of the Foundation remained the “Autism. One world for all” project, thanks to which they managed to set up a network of Assyl Miras autism centres in six cities of Kazakhstan. Centres in Uralsk and Aktobe were opened in 2018 in partnership with local akimats (city administrations). The purpose of this programme is to introduce in Kazakhstan the most modern but at the same time scientifically proved international methodologies of assistance in adaptation of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
The founder, Bulat Utemuratov, has allocated 12.5 mln dollars for these purposes. The centres render assistance free of charge, giving great attention to training of parents of children with ASD. The centres currently employ over 100 professionals who were trained by the best foreign specialists.
The staff of the centres have already diagnosed about 5,000 children, 2,471 out of them – in 2018. To better inform the medical community, parents of children with ASD, public officials and non-commercial organisations, Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation organised, for the third time now, the annual international conference “Autism. The world of opportunities”, where speakers were experts from the USA, the SAR and Russia. The conference was attended by 350 people.
Popularisation of philanthropy through mass sports
For the sixth time now, the Foundation traditionally held the Burabike festival of charity, music and sports jointly with the Rixos Borovoe Hotel. In 2018, a record 205 million tenge was collected, the money was spent to purchase vital medical equipment for children’s medical institutions, the handover of equipment will take place in early 2019.
Support of children with the ICP diagnosis
In 2018 the Foundation allocated 330 mln tenge to help the Association of Parents of Disabled Children (ARDI) and Public Foundation DOM (Mercy Volunteer Society) to open a Rehabilitation Centre for children with the ICP diagnosis. The approach to this project is much alike the “Autism. One world for all” programme, the Foundation plans to introduce the most modern and scientifically proved methodologies of rehabilitation in Kazakhstan, to disseminate and promote knowledge among parents, medical community and public organisations. The project also provides for an element of training for specialists to adapt the gained knowledge in Kazakhstan. Six staff members of this centre have already been trained in South Korea and listened to a course run by an expert from the USA.