Kazakh Students’ Reactions about Ainura in “Two Kyrgyz Women”

Today I had the author of the book “Two Kyrgyz Women” come to my office and pick up four big, plastic bags full of clothes that my American friends had donated for the shelter for escaped, trafficked women.  Marinka was so thankful for what she knows the refugee women at the shelter need. To me, it was interesting that I met a few hours later with my adult students who were assigned to read about the first woman, Ainura in this short book by Marinka.  I’m thinking it would be good for my students to meet for themselves this amazing author, we shall see…  Marinka is doing her part to bring awareness to others in the expat community about this tragedy that has been preying upon the Central Asian mentality. Why not get Kazakh educators to be as aware as well.

The following are the comments that I wrote down as quickly as I could. We could have gone on for two hours, but I had to stop at one hour.  These teachers all had something to contribute to the discussion and it was a delight for me to let my voice rest after having given a lesson to the university employees the hour before.  Here’s what I can read from my writing about what was discussed:

  • I can’t even imagine Ainura’s life with no TV, no contact with the outside world.  The Kyrgyz have next to no opportunities to better themselves.
  • I tried to imagine myself in Ainura’s position and it was heartbreaking.  Ainura was able to compare both sides and she found out that her previous life of poverty in Kyrgyzstan was better than slavery in Kazakhstan.
  • Someone suggested that this book be translated into Kazakh and Kyrgyz to help people in the villages understand the reality of what has happened to their own. Awareness should be made among those people who are living back in the 19th century and very naïve to the brutalities of the outside world in the 21st century.
  • Why did Ainura take her 2 month old son with her to this unknown future in Kazakhstan?  Several thought this was very irresponsible on her part.  However, someone sided with Ainura and said that she believed the recruiters who said that it would be fine to take the boy along with her.
  • This story is about globalization vs. rural areas.  Ainura was brave enough to strike out on her own to better her life.  However, one person said that we don’t appreciate what we have.  Some want to possess more and more.  She even admitted “shame on me for wanting more” she knew she was no different from Ainura.
  • The brutality of what these women and men went through at the tobacco plantations, they were inhumanely treated like animals.  Someone made the comment that if this is happening in Kazakhstan, then as a nation, it will never grow up.  Sure politicians may kill each other, some kill themselves but to kill your own people. The country will not progress.
  • Many people in Kazakhstan would prefer NOT to believe that this kind of slavery is going on.  First is to be suspicious about where Ainura’s story is true or not but after reading this account, it is hard NOT to believe!  Very convincing account.
  • Ainura was afraid of losing her baby boy to kidnappers who might have sold him to be sold for body parts in China.
  • Someone had heard of a story of a farmer who had held a man for 14 years and made him work as a slave.  Finally, the farmer was caught for his inhumane practices.
  • Freedom was what someone mentioned, we don’t appreciate freedom until it is taken away.  We should be grateful for what you have, be satisfied.
  • Someone from Aktobe said they held prejudice against the Tajiks and Uzbeks who use children to beg for money, some are gypsies.  But then after reading this book it made this person realize that they really have been trapped in a surreal and sad reality.
  • This Kyrgyz woman was lucky to return home to her family but maybe she is just 1%, what about the others who are still trapped in their slavery? 
  • Back in the time of the USSR, many people who had been separated were searching for their loved ones, returned home to their homeland. This is similar where the women returned to their roots but could not talk about it.
  • Someone mentioned they were so touched when Ainura returned to Kyrgyzstan and kissed the soil that had given her poverty.
  • (to be continued tomorrow)

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