By Kamilya Zulfukharova ’17 (Taraz, Kazakhstan, placed by FLAG in Plainwell, MI) 

Between February 15 and March 6, the American Councils’ office in Almaty transformed into a bustling hub of generosity and compassion as individuals came together to support a donation drive for Ukraine. The initiative was spearheaded by Kamazhay Kospan ’22, Nargyz Bitimbay ’20, and Alumni Coordinator Kamilya Zulfukharova ’17, who united their efforts with the broader campaigns of @help_ukraine_kz and @posylka_fond. By collecting food and household items, they sought to make a tangible difference in the lives of those affected by the ongoing war in Ukraine. 

The donation drives invited participants to contribute essential items and encouraged friendly competition. The individual who donated the most items was recognized with special prizes such as chocolate bars and FLEX-branded merchandise, fostering an atmosphere of camaraderie and healthy rivalry. This innovative approach helped boost enthusiasm and participation, ultimately leading to more substantial donations. 

As participants filed in with their contributions, the American Councils office transformed into a physical representation of the community’s collective goodwill. Stacks of canned goods, boxes of non-perishable food items, and bags of toiletries grew higher with each passing day. Volunteers worked tirelessly sorting and organizing the donations, ensuring that they would be efficiently distributed to those in need in Ukraine. 

Donation drives like this serve as a potent reminder of the power of unity and shared responsibility that American Councils espouse in Kazakhstan. When individuals come together, pooling their resources and efforts, they can make a significant and lasting impact on the world. The event also highlighted that everyone has something to offer, whether time, food, or essential items to provide ease and comfort to others suffering in Ukraine. 

Kamazhay reflected on the drive’s success stating, “At this event, we came together as a community to show that we care, are willing to share, and can make a positive impact in the world.” His words resonated with many participants, who found inspiration in the collective spirit of giving that the event embodied. 

The donation drive’s success did not go unnoticed by the local community, as it was widely covered on social media outlets. Their reporting spotlighted the fundraiser, inspiring others to organize similar events to support Ukraine. As word of the drive spread on Instagram, more people stepped forward to contribute, expanding the reach of the initiative and increasing its overall impact. For our fundraiser in particular, more than 15 people contributed humanitarian aid totaling close to 45 kilograms of various supplies. 

As the drive concluded on March 6, volunteers began to pack and ship the donated items. The result of contributions exceeded all expectations, a testament to the dedication and compassion of the community. The donations would soon be on their way to Ukraine, providing much-needed support and relief to those affected by the war. 

The donation drive in Almaty represents a shining example of what can be achieved when communities rally together in support of a common cause. By working together as a community, participants made a difference.  

Featured Alumni:  

Kamazhay Kospan ’22 (Atyrau, Kazakhstan, placed by Pan Atlantic in Tacoma, WA) 

Nargyz Bitimbay ’20 (Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan placed by PAX in Palmyra, ME) 

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