By Aslan Tussupzhanov, Red Crescent of Kazakhstan

Blood collection is one of the most traditional activities of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and a constant challenge when it comes to getting the engagement of young people. Which is why the Kazakhstan Red Crescent is striving to buck the trend and motivate a new generation of donors.

They joined the Club 25 initiative – a youth movement with the goal of promoting blood donation – and set up their first club in Almaty in 2015, followed shortly by a second one in Astana.

Club 25 members do not shy away from experimenting with new technologies: on World Donor Day, all regular Red Crescent donors in Kazakhstan received messages on WhatsApp to contragulate them on the major contribution they’re making to saving people’s lives.

They also came up with the idea of message boards – on these posters, donors can send messages to patients who received their blood, wishing them a quick recovery. The posters are displayed in hospitals where blood donations are used, visible to patients and relatives.

Number of new donors tripled in a year

Volunteers of Club 25 also take part in all activities related to blood donation: organize Donor Day events, hold regular information sessions at universities, organizations and companies. In 2016, they reached more than 10,000 people through lectures and as a result, the number of first-time donors increased to 2,445 from 800 in the previous year.

Daniyar, a first-time donor described his experience: “I never thought about giving blood, it just never crossed my mind. But after I met volunteers who talked so eagerly about the subject and confronted me with the hard facts, I realized this is something that I can do. I can have a positive effect on someone else’s life.”

Kazakhstan Red Crescent encourages the exchange of experiences among the clubs – members hold regular discussions over Skype, and also have had  the chance to meet in person at a three-day summer camp.

Elena Kim, General Director of the Kazakhstan Red Crescent said: ”By establishing our Club 25, we are mobilizing young people as a new generation of voluntary blood donors.”

”We hope to see a Club 25 being formed in every branch of Kazakhstan Red Crescent in the next couple of years. This would be a great step in scaling up our blood collection activities nationwide.”