Thursday, June 30, 2016


Qishloq Ovozi

Kyrgyzstan: Aychurek’s Happy Ending

This 13-Year-Old Kyrgyz Girl Supports Her Whole Familyi
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February 26, 2016
13-year-old Aichurek Sulaimanova is the sole breadwinner for her family in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Aichurek collects plastic bags after school to provide for her disabled mother and younger brother.
WATCH: This 13-Year-Old Kyrgyz Girl Supports Her Whole Family
By Bruce Pannier

It is a great pleasure to work with my friends in RFE/RL’s Central Asian services. They do some amazing work, and I have a front-row seat for it all.

I do not boast about them as often as I should in the Qishloq. They are making a difference to the people in Central Asia, and as one example I offer the story of 13-year-old Aychurek Sulaymanova from Bishkek, courtesy of RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service, known locally as Azattyk.

Like many 13-year-old girls in Bishkek, Aychurek goes to school in the morning. She is in seventh grade. But when school ends, Aychurek becomes an adult.

Aychurek, her mother, and her younger brother live in a basement apartment that was once part of a factory housing project. Aychurek’s mother is ill and confined to a wheelchair.

So for the last 2 1/2 years, every day when school ends, Aychurek scours Bishkek’s bazaars looking for plastic and cardboard. She searches until darkness starts to fall. Then she takes her day’s haul to a recycling area, where she is usually paid between 100 and 150 soms [about $1.30-$2].

On the day Azattyk spoke with Aychurek, she had collected some 10 kilograms of plastic. Asked what she spends the money on, Aychurek replied, “Bread, food. Yesterday two women repaired something in the entryway [to Aychurek’s building] and I had to pay 100 soms.” Aychurek also buys medicine for her mother with the money she earns.

Once home, Aychurek cooks the evening meal for the family. “I fry potatoes, I make soup, I can cook chicken and I can also make plov, manti, and oromo,” she says.

Azattyk reported about Aychurek on February 22. The next day -- let me repeat that, the very next day -- February 23, people started dropping by Aychurek’s home, and they didn’t come empty-handed. Through WhatsApp and social networks, Kyrgyz at home and around the world worked to set up a fund for the family. Special transportation is supposed to arrive on February 24 to bring Aychurek’s mother, Yryskan, to a bank to open an account to receive the donations.

And it all started with an Azattyk report.

I’ll be touting more of our Central Asian services’ successes at the Qishloq in the coming weeks and months.

Based on material from Azattyk’s Sabyr Abdumomunov
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About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect some of the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change. Content will draw on the extensive knowledge and contacts of RFE/RL's Central Asian services but also allow scholars in the West, particularly younger scholars who will be tomorrow’s experts on the region, opportunities to share their views on the evolving situation at this Eurasian crossroad. The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.

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