Volunteers in Kazakhstan publicize patients’ medical rights

Report
from Counterpart International
Published on 23 Jan 2013 View Original

By Jennifer Brookland

Selbi Turesheva is passionate about raising awareness of people’s right to health in Kazakhstan.

“Every person may face a time in life when they are in need of medical attention,” she says. “Receiving quality medical care is that person’s human right.”

Turesheva and fellow university student Parvina Kurbanoa became the first volunteers to give their time to Aman-saulyk, an organization that conducts national advocacy campaigns to promote patients’ rights to quality medical care.

Though the need is great, the group was unable to attract volunteers away from big cities like Almaty in favor of Kazakhstan’s more remote rural areas. That changed when Aman-saulyk and another 11 civil society organizations received volunteer management training from Counterpart International.

As part of the U.S. Agency for International Development-supported Kazakhstan Civil Society Strengthening program, the instruction allowed Aman-saulyk leaders to improve their skills and learn how to recruit, train and make productive use of volunteers like Turesheva and Kurbanova.

“Earlier, I doubted how a person can work for free and work so effectively,” says Oksana Gulak, Aman-saulyk’s online health protection project coordinator. “But after the training we were able to see what an employer and a volunteer can offer to each other and build mutually beneficial relations.”

The training helped the organization recruit two more volunteers. Today, the four are actively engaged in translating relevant international materials from English to Russian to make the organization’s website more robust.

With their help, people can easily read general information about Aman-saulyk and its mission to educate patients.

Their goals include translating heftier publications into Russian so that all can peruse them. First up: information on providing palliative care.

The volunteers are also actively promoting Aman-saulyk’s activities using social networks and new media.

“On Facebook we have been posting basic patient’s rights hoping to reach a wide range of people,” says Turesheva. “They need to know that they have these rights.”

More fans are starting to follow the organization online, and the number of people reading web posts is ticking up as well.

The efforts of these hardworking volunteers allowed Aman-saulyk’s message to reach an increased number of Kazakhs. With its increased ability to manage volunteers, the organization is now working to expand its recruiting effort so that additional do-gooders can contribute their talents and magnify its reach.

Additional reporting contributed by Fariza Mukanova, Kazakhstan Civil Society Strengthening Program Coordinator.