Intoxicated people are a part of the fabric of life on the streets of Shymkent, Kazakhstan. “Most people ignore happy drunks and avoid violent drunks,” says Crossroads’ partner Salem Union. “Every family has been affected.” In winter, the below-freezing temperatures become deadly for addicts sleeping rough.

Colleagues in the area began patrolling the city during the winter months, taking the homeless into a shelter. They started with 23 people, helping them find jobs, identification papers, care and rehabilitation. Some needed multiple amputations of frostbitten legs and fingers. By the following summer, all had found a new place in society.

We sent goods to furnish this shelter. Carpet tiles, household furniture, a television, clothing, crockery and kitchen equipment all helped transform a bare building into a home. Men who had undergone amputations and found it difficult to transfer from beds on the floor to wheelchairs, were given beautiful hotel-style beds to cater for their needs. It is more than just accommodation. It’s a home that meets a need with love and compassion.

George Bernard Shaw said, “Alcohol is the anaesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.” This centre is designed to help people wake up to a new and far more fulfilling life. By helping furnish the centre, we have sought to invest not just in building, but in lives.

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