Archive for January 9, 2008

Kyrgyzstan – “Sad Eyes of Urban Poverty”

Fortunately, I made it back safely to Almaty, Kazakhstan this morning and am unpacking, just the reverse of what I was doing over 24 hours ago.  Uneventful trip, watched a movie on the KLM flight from Amsterdam about the Gypsy Caravan.  Excellent lyrical piece about the Gypsy culture from Spain, Macedonia, India, Romania and several other countries.  In lieu of writing more on that movie, my blog continues on the plight of Kyrgyzstan through the writings of those who want to adventure to the U.S. not unlike the Gypsy musicians in the movie I watched who did concerts for six weeks to appreciative American audiences.

A 37 year old single woman in the Issyk Kylskaya oblast has a huge heart for street children.  She said “Everybody knows the problem with street children and children who find themselves in difficult situations in their family because of alcoholism or narcotics.  There are some new districts (Kara jigach, Kelechek, Dordoi, Archa Beshik, Dostyk and many others) in our town that do not have any school for children and most of the poor families or families of alcoholics are living there.  Their children have to work since age 10, some of them have to cadge (?).  Small children do not go to school because it is too far and their parents have not enough money.”  

Another single woman aged 35 from Bishkek wrote the difference between children who are the pride of their fathers and mothers and they are realizing their dreams in dancing. These children may be small and thin but they have big eyes, “their eyes are full of joy and happiness when they succeed in dance.”  However, there are other children. “children who begin to work from age 8, somebody in the shop, somebody in the markets.  The majority of these children cannot read or write.  They always think how to earn money as much as possible.  Eyes of these children are always sad and angry.  Some of them don’t have parents.  

One young 25 year old single woman studying law remembers when she was a 14 year old standing behind a closed door where her mother was fighting for their house inside the courtroom.  Because her father did not have a will when he died, their house was to be split in two ways or essentially they would have been homeless.  That is when she decided to become a lawyer specializing in real estate when she saw how important proper documentation is.  She also saw how a very good lawyer helped her mother out for free and that is what made her a strong believer in the social responsibility of being a lawyer to help vulnerable poor people faced with legal challenges.  

Another 23 year old married female from Bishkek believes she combines her work as a lawyer with being a social worker.  This happens when “I have to persuade a judge not to imprison a child in exchange of my promise to find a refuge for him or an organization providing services to orphans.  I am glad to do this, because the main reward for my work is happy faces of children who have got another chance to become happy!!”  She also works with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Project where they provide free legal aid to children in conflict with the law, condemned minors and carry out educational components in deprived institutions…Poverty increases the number of homeless children, orphans and children who are in nobody’s charge.”  

One single young man, 28 years old says he works with a common problem among Kyrgyz youth, neighborhood gangs. He works hard to cultivate “Fair Play” principles which are based on sport ethics and the Olympic ideals.  Another 27 year old single woman studying in law from Bishkek works with those who are drug abused.  “The problems of narcotics in my country is getting worse with every year resulting in the increase of other socially baneful indicators such as growing number of AIDS infected and sick children born by drug abused women.

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