SOS Children in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan mapOverview of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is the second largest of the former Soviet Union republics. It is a huge country covering a territory equivalent to the whole of Western Europe, with vast mineral resources and considerable economic potential.

However, more than a decade after independence, and despite generous foreign investments, its people continue to suffer serious hardship, with many, particularly children, living in extreme poverty. Among the many daunting challenges it faces are a dilapidated infrastructure, high unemployment, inflation, poverty, prostitution, drug addiction and AIDS.

Our Work in Kazakhstan


We began working in Kazakhstan in 1997 when the first SOS Children's Village was established in Almaty, the former capital. The Village is in a residential area on the edge of the city, with hospitals, schools and shops nearby. Over 95 children between eighteen months and 15 years old live in the 11 Children from Astana Kazakhstanfamily houses with their SOS mothers.

Like most SOS Children's Villages, there is an SOS Nursery that also takes in children from the neighbourhood. Medical care and treatment for the children and mothers is provided by a small SOS clinic.


SOS Children's Village Astana opened in 2000 in the new capital, Astana. In a residential area convenient for schools, hospitals and shops, it has twelve family houses and a nursery school. Like the Village in Almaty, the children are a mix of different nationalities and religions.

In Capchagay, near Almaty, an SOS Social Centre has been established to provide holiday accommodation for the children and the mothers during the summer months.


A third SOS Children's Village opened in 2004 in Temirtau, a poor industrial city near Karaganda. It has 12 family houses. In addition there is an SOS Playbus and a Family Strengthening Programme to support vulnerable children and their families in the local community.

Life in SOS Children’s Villages Kazakhstan: Rada's beautiful life

"Life is beautiful!" says Rada. Can this be true even after working for ten years as an SOS mother, a job which demands full devotion and giving 100% every day?

"But it's not my work, it's my life! I hate it when people say that I work in SOS Children's Village Almaty, I do not work here. Building a house is work, not this."

50-year-old Rada is preparing three youngsters to move to the youth home, explaining and teaching them how to save money; where to go shopping; how to fill in documents.

"I think they are ready for the next step. I always say to my children that in life there are always good things and bad things, but there are always more good things," says Rada. She likes to make fun of herself, saying that she is in seventh place in terms of height. "Almost everybody is taller than me!" she says about her ten children.

The kids have not grown up without Rada's efforts and in the beginning, there were really difficult times. "It was hard - they were ill all the time, every week we went to the hospital."

Orphan's eyes made the decision

Rada did not have her own children and but still wanted to have children to care for. She was asked to join the village after she had sent a thank you letter to the village. "I read in a newspaper that the village is to be built and sent my thank you because I felt it was important that somebody thought about children those days, when it was a difficult situation in the country."

Although she was invited to join the training sessions to become an SOS mother, Rada was not sure if she would eventually join the organisation, but that quickly changed. "It happened in an orphanage," she says. "I looked into the children's eyes and I realised they need me."

"Without mental love it's not possible to be here - they feel if you love them truly or not," says the mother, who in her "former life" was an economist.

Children "destroyed" bad idea

She admits that she has thought about leaving in the hardest times, but the children made her change her mind. "When I carefully talked that I'm really tired, the children felt insulted and said to me that this is a betrayal. I raised my hands and gave up the plan."

Now she is happy that the children "destroyed" that weariness and she did something that she would otherwise have never done. "This year I graduated from university in psychology and without SOS Children's Villages I would never have done this. I chose psychology to understand my children better, because in the beginning all the knowledge I had was from my own childhood. The children started to ask about things I had no idea of, because I had never experienced things they had."

After ten years living in the village, she has her own recipe for how to have a happy life and a good relationship with the children. "Sometimes you have to improvise, to be playful and go to their level - even if it means you have to be Maradona on the football ground. A mother must understand her children; understand their fate and character; take them as they are. The most important thing is to forgive and to apologize if needed."

Local contact

SOS Children's Villages Kazakhstan   

9 Samal District, Office 13
Astana 010000

Tel: +7 7172 439039, +7 7172 439040
Fax: +7 7172 439041