UNICEF and Kazakhstan (Part II) and a poem

Yesterday at our Astana International Women’s group meeting, we heard a featured talk given by Hanna who represented UNICEF.  Hanna had many interesting facts to relate about Kazakhstan to nearly 40 expat ladies.  The questions afterwards yielded even more interesting anecdotes from Hanna. Something I just remembered today is that many childbearing women in Kazakhstan are anemic.  She explained that this was due to how the flour in Kazakhstan is milled, it needs the added fortification of iron in it but that is lacking for some reason.  Hanna stated that if it could be legislated that flour be fortified with the iron that women need, they would not die in childbirth or raise children who are also anemic at birth. Simple solutions when facts are known, when people care and are educated.

Kazakhstan enjoys many economic privileges and benefits due to its natural resources but there are still so many needy Kazakh and Kazakhstani people in the rural areas who do not get all the perks.  Hanna’s strongest point yesterday was that if families, who are poverty-stricken, dump their kids off at an orphanage the children’s fate is worse when they turn 18 years of age. They are released from the state-run home and left to fend for themselves. I know that is true because of the work some friends I know in Almaty who work with the disabled “social orphans.”  These unfortunate, cast-off children when they are 18 are put into a mental institution and many of them die or commit suicide.

Hanna emphasized that it is best if the children stay within their family unit or with relatives as the Kazakhs traditionally did in the past before the Soviet era.  Children should not be cast off into an orphanage where there is little hope and where the children are often beaten or mistreated.  Yes, they may be fed but their future is not good.  Another lady from the audience asked “What about the street children?”  Hanna had an answer for that but I don’t remember it.  I think my mind wandered to all the street children I saw in Kyiv, Ukraine.  I don’t see them in Almaty or Astana but I’m sure they are in other cities in Kazakhstan.  It is just too cold in the wintertime for the children to survive on the street in Astana, perhaps they can survive in the winter months in southern Kazakhstan, I don’t know.

Here’s a poem that I like, I’ve probably used it before but it is from Streams in the Desert.  I think that UNICEF can provide a stream of hope in Kazakhstan, they are doing many good works.  But there is much left undone…

Have you heard the tale of the aloe plant,

Away in the sunny clime?

By humble growth of a hundred years

It reaches its blooming time;

And then a wondrous bud at its crown

Breaks into a thousand flowers;

This floral queen, in its blooming seen,

Is the pride of the tropical bowers,

But the plant to the flower is sacrifice,

For it blooms but once, and it dies.

Have you further heard of the aloe plant,

That grows in the sunny clime;

How every one of its thousand flowers,

As they drop in the blooming time,

Is an infant plant that fastens its roots

In the place where it falls on the ground,

And as fast as they drop from the dying stem,

Grow lively and lovely around?

By dying, it liveth a thousand-fold

In the young that spring from the death of the old.

Have you heard the tale of the pelican,

The Arabs’ Gimel el Bahr,

That lives in the African solitudes,

Where the birds that live lonely are?

Have you heard how it loves its tender young,

And cares and toils for their good,

It brings them water from mountain far,

And fishes the seas for their food.

In famine it feeds them—what love can devise!

The blood of its bosom—and, feeding them, dies.

Have you heard this tale—the best of them all—

The tale of the Holy and True,

He dies, but His life, in untold souls

Lives on in the world anew;

His seed prevails, and is filling the earth,

As the stars fill the sky above.

He taught us to yield up the love of life,

For the sake of the life of love.

His death is our life, His loss is our gain;

The joy for the tear, the peace for the pain.

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