“A pair of shoes, a warm sweater…”

Thankfully I’m hearing from at least three of my informants in Kazakhstan about the incremental progress we are making to help combat this tragedy of slavery. So many sad stories I read off the Internet about what people do to other people who are powerless. Not only women and children, but men as well, are trafficked into Kazakhstan from other countries.  Below you will read an update I received about 11 Uzbek men who escaped cruel and inhumane punishment with the ongoing building construction that continues unabated in Astana.

The way I stay upbeat is creating “Card-Again” greeting cards that are used cards will eventually be bought and put back into circulation. Over the course of a month, we have collected at least 6,000 cards to refurbish.  Many of us ladies have been busy on weekend retreats working on Christmas cards to be ready for the holiday season to sell.  The profits will go to shelters in Minnesota since we have some of the same problems with human trafficking as Kazakhstan does.  I’m hoping that we can eventually move our card making operation to be a kind of cottage industry in Kazakhstan for those women who are getting rehabilitated or who are waiting for their court dates so they can testify against the traffickers.  Often the wheels of justice move slowly no matter what country you live in, Kazakhstan or the U.S.  One person informed me of the following:

“…a collection of clothes I made for 11 (yes eleven!) Uzbeks who were rescued from labour servitude thus were in urgent need of basic necessities.  I still do not know the details (will send them when I have them) but thought the action taken might be useful publicity in your local area to show what is being done by expats locally (mainly British teachers and recently arrived American staff). I will keep you informed of any future activity…”

The following was added as a thank you, written by a Kazakh national for the expats’ efforts to collect clothes for these men.

“On behalf of me and my colleagues involved in the shelter work here in Kazakhstan, I want to express our greatest gratitude for your continuous support. The victims of human trafficking are often brought/rescued with no personal items and we are often in desperate need for clothes, shoes,  hygienic items, towers, bed clothes etc. Therefore, your donations  are very important for us since no other organization or grant can cover the costs of this items, not to mention the difficulties  of purchasing new. We want to assure you that every piece of men or female clothes you donate reaches  the hands of those in need.

A pair of shoes, or a warm sweater means so much for these people accustomed to be  treated  badly and inhumanely.

Once again, and all your colleagues involved in  this important and generous initiative, THANK YOU!

Hope that our cooperation will continue on the benefits of all involved in this process,

Sincerely, xxx

The photos below are the actual chairs which turn into beds that escaped trafficked women can use in a small two room flat that functions as a shelter.  Tomorrow I will continue with more correspondence about this shelter in Almaty that my American lady friends helped buy the chairs/beds with their work at a rummage sale several months ago. It is gratifying to know that though we couldn’t outright send the leftover clothes that we didn’t sell to Kazakhstan because it is cost prohibitive, we donated to another charity. The money we DID make was turned into necessary tangible items the trafficking shelters need in Kazakhstan.

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