Founder: Meruert Argimbayeva
There are thousands of children with brain dysfunction or CNS disorders in Karaganda. These disorders are difficult to diagnose. Children with such diseases need continuous rehabilitation and treatment on a daily basis. The cost of treatment and rehabilitation is very high, and there are few rehabilitation centres in Karaganda Oblast. If intellectual abilities are preserved, continuous treatment and rehabilitation will help children to attend ordinary schools, to care for themselves, and to live a fulfilling life. Even when diseases are serious, the condition of such children can be improved greatly and the lives of their parents can be made easier.
In November 2013, a charity shop – Radost – was established in Karaganda. Its main aim is to help children with brain dysfunction and CNS disorders. Radost is a typical charity shop which spends its income for treatment of such children and for help to associations of the disabled, residential care homes and crisis centres in the region. People donate new and used clothes and items, 90% of which are given to low income households and disabled people in the entire Karaganda Oblast for free. New clothes and items or items in very good condition are sold at a price that is significantly lower than the market price, which people on a low income can afford.
Since April 2016, the shop has been partially financing Lapa Pomoshi (“the Helping Paw”) charity organisation, a Canis therapy (dog therapy) centre where specially trained therapy dogs, under the supervision of psychologists and therapists, treat children with brain dysfunctions and CNS disorders. Canis therapy is a branch of pet therapy. The centre offers free sessions with dogs for children who need treatment, and this has become possible thanks to financial support from Radost shop (which pays rent and utilities bills). The centre provides rehabilitation to 7-20 children with cerebral palsy, autism and CNS disorders monthly, and employs two dog therapists, a psychologist and eight therapy dogs. Sessions with a speech therapist have been added recently, while exercise therapy and massage are to be added in the near future.
Over the three years since it was established, Radost charity shop has spent 1,300,000 tenge of its net income on the rehabilitation of critically ill children. The shop also holds charity campaigns to raise funds. Through consultancy from Meruert Argimbayeva, the founder of the shop, sponsor support has become available to two orphanages in Osakarovka District and two residential care homes in Karaganda, associations of the disabled and Ak Bota rehabilitation centre. Thousands of people on low income in Karaganda Oblast can get clothes, shoes, household appliances and other products for free. The shop provides this support weekly. Today Radost has four employees and about 15 volunteers.
The shop has never been sponsored, nor has it received any grants. In the first month of its operation, the shop reached break-even point. Each month the employees increase the scope of support and sales. The lack of financial support from outside turned out to be beneficial, although the first year of operation was full of problems. As Meruert Argimbayeva says, this helped them to rely on themselves and acquire all the necessary entrepreneurial skills. Now the shop is a classic social enterprise, which is financially viable and uses its income to solve social problems.
The shop is going to apply for grants to support the expansion of its activity. Other plans include establishing a branch in Karaganda whose income will be spent for free sports for children from disadvantaged families, and opening a vintage show room where clothes and items made during the period of the USSR will be sold. Any income will be spent on supporting children under the care of Radost charity shop.