Help is Only a Phone Call Away: Domestic Helpline Expands Services in Kazakhstan
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There is one national helpline in Kazakhstan to respond to emergency domestic issues and educate callers about children rights and services. Seven psychologists speaking both Russian and Kazakh make sure five phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide free confidential support. Any child or parent throughout Kazakhstan can simply dial “150” from land lines to connect.
According to Anya Yakovtseva, a part-time counselor, the hotline receives up to 40,000 calls per month. The majority of the calls come from children and young people under the age of 21 and are related to family domestic violence and children–adult relationships. She admits there are also unrelated calls such as parents calling in for parenting advice but embraces these tangents as opportunities to educate them about legal rights and local services they did not know existed.
In fact, the majority of citizens are simply unaware of this free service through the National Helpline for Children and Youth (NHCY). Therefore, through a grant from the BOTA Foundation, NHCY was able to expand and promote its services to approximately 15,000 children and young people throughout Almaty and Astana regions, where roughly one-third of Kazakhstan’s population resides.
The grant also allowed NHCY to expand from one to three phone lines, hire additional psychologists and outreach workers, and update current informational brochures. Moreover, it strengthened their social service database, which is used to refer callers to the nearest available domestic violence and counseling centers in their area.
Because of their outstanding work, NHCY received another grant this year to continue improving their services. The second grant will be used to further market the hotline to other remote regions of Kazakhstan, add two more phone lines, and organize a national conference on domestic issues. In addition, the organization will explore incorporating new media technology (e.g. online chatting, social sedia) to easily reach the youth, who increasingly prefer online interactions over phone lines in Kazakhstan.
NHCY’s grant is part of BOTA’s Social Service Program (SSP), which awards grants to NGOs to improve the availability and quality of their social services. Last year, over $1.9 million was granted to 135 NGOs, benefiting over 17,000 individuals throughout Kazakhstan.
IREX is building the BOTA Foundation by providing senior technical expertise to ensure that over $100 million effectively reaches the poorest of poor in Kazakhstan. BOTA is an independent not-for-profit NGO that improves the lives of children and youth in Kazakhstan through university scholarships, small cash transfers to impoverished mothers, and grants to local NGOs.