2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award Nominee: Asel Rysmendiyeva

Asel Rysmendiyeva, 24, from Almaty, Kazakhstan is an accountant by profession, but her volunteer work promoting and protecting the rights of children in alternative care is equally important to her. Her greatest wish is to prevent children from losing parental care and to make society more tolerant toward children with special needs.

It is the love and support Asel received from her own SOS Mother that inspires her to be a role model for other young people. Not only does she advocate for their rights, but she also has helped 40 young people settle independently after leaving alternative care.

Her advocacy work stretches beyond the borders of Kazakhstan. She was active in SOS Children’s Villages International’s I Matter campaign, which raised awareness about young people leaving care.

In 2012, she addressed members of the European Parliament and the European Commission regarding leaving care issues, and was also part of the team who developed a youth-friendly version of the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children in Russian.

“I am motivated by the desire to make the life of another person more valuable. You can achieve anything if you apply not only your will, but also your energy and hard work,” Asel said.

After participating in a peer research project by SOS Children’s Villages International, Asel applied for and was awarded a grant to do more research on the topic. She coordinated a project that involved 100 respondents.

“Asel is an incredibly strong and positive woman,” Véronique Lerch, Head of Liaison & Advocacy/ Program & Strategy at SOS Children’s Villages International, said.

“She is always willing to help and support others. As advisor, friend, or big sister, she fulfils her role of mentor joyfully and heartily. Her top priority is to be available for others, to share her experiences, and support her peers wherever she can.”

>> See the other 2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award nominees