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Celebration of compassion: Kazakhstani nominated for Hermann Gmeiner award

07 june 2014, 13:22
 Asel Rysmendieva
Asel Rysmendieva
 Asel Rysmendieva (left). Photo from personal archives.
Asel Rysmendieva (left). Photo from personal archives.

Kazakhstani Asel Rysmendieva, 24, has been nominated for the annual Hermann Gmeiner award that was named after Austrian philanthropist and SOS Children’s village founder, Tengrinews reports.

Herman Gmeiner award was initiated in 1971 to emphasize and celebrate the achievements of former SOS children who inspire the youth. The award is given to “acknowledge and therefore recognize particular humanitarian, vocational, sports, and educational achievements”.

Asel started her volunteer work with youth in 2009 when she opened the Youth Council in Almaty. There, she helped young alumnis of the SOS to deal with conflict situations and gave advises based on her own experience. Asel successfully combined her humanitarian work with the daytime job of an accountant.

“I sincerely wanted to help them to overcome obstacles that they encounter and will encounter in future. There were over 40 teenagers who came to the center for help. I conducted workshops on time management, on planning their budgets and on how to deal with critical situations. Many of them still call me to ask for an advice or just to share good news. (…) When I learned that I was nominated for Herman Gmeiner award, I was surprised and asked myself: "What have I done to deserve such an honor?" I believe there is much more I can do,” Asel said.

In 2011, the SOS Children’s villages started I Matter campaign. As the official website of the SOS states, the campaign aims at “helping to ensure that the challenges faced by those leaving care are no greater than those of any other young adult”. Asel’s participation in the I Matter became a new step in her life.

The young activist said that in case she wins the award, she wants to donate the money to help children with oncological illnesses. You can read the stories of other nominees and vote for them here.

In 2014, 279 people from 51 country were nominated for the Hermann Gmeiner award. In April, 8 people reached the finals. These are 4 women and 4 men from Ecuador, Paraguay, Zimbabwe, Ruanda, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Nepal and India. The results of the online voting will be out on June 22.

By Gyuzel Kamalova

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