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Education against exclusion in Kyrgyzstan III

Kyrgyzstan continues to face difficulties resulting from the collapse of the USSR. The country is destabilised by ethnic divisions, unemployment and emigration of young men to Russia for economic purposes. Kyrgyzstan needs economic assistance as well as support in the development of its human capital. For several years now, volunteers have been coming to the centres run by the Society of Jesus in Kyrgyzstan to support the development-oriented and humanitarian work those centres pursue.

This project was aimed at countering social exclusion of marginalised groups in Kyrgyzstan, including those marginalised for ethnic reasons (both Kyrgyz and Uzbek). Additionally, the project sought to improve the quality of education in schools and public centres and to improve the quality of life of people living in social welfare homes, children’s homes, and retirement homes as well as in the local communities.

The project represented further development and expansion of the cooperation between the Angelus Silesius Meeting House and the Svet Lubvi Foundation founded at the Jesuit Mission in Bishkek, which was initiated in 2013 under the Volunteering Polish Aid programme and continued in the form of Polish Development Assistance projects in 2014 and 2015.

The volunteers participating in this project supported the assistance and charity work carried out by the Svet Lubvi Foundation in Bishkek and Jalal-Abad, the Suzacki Region, and Jansi – work that is mainly addressed to Muslims. However, the limited human resources available to the foundation had narrowed the reach of its local community work. This is why the help of the volunteers – so positively received by the local Kyrgyz and Uzbek community in 2013 and 2014 – gave impetus to the continuation of activities aimed at integrating ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks so they can participate in those activities from their early years.

The project contributed to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals 1 and 2 and was carried out in the following sectors: improving basic life skills of adolescents and adults, developing educational and training facilities and training of teachers, developing education, developing local communities (measures of local community activation), and developing measures to prevent social exclusion of people with disabilities.

Education against exclusion in Kyrgyzstan III

The project was implemented between 18 July and 31 December 2015 in cooperation with the Angelus Silesius Meeting House and the Svet Lubvi Foundation established by the Jesuit Order. Three volunteers stayed in Kyrgyzstan between 1 September and 23 November 2015.

Initially, the project was to involve four locations in Kyrgyzstan, but as the number of volunteers participating in the project decreased, it was eventually carried out in three cities: Jalal-Abad, Bishkek and Dhanishu.

Education against exclusion in Kyrgyzstan III

In Jalal-Abad, the volunteers worked in a residence for children with disabilities and for the Merim Bulak organisation established by parents of children with disabilities. It was for that organisation that one volunteer, in collaboration with the local coordinator, wrote an educational and rehabilitation project covering a period of 18 months, which sought to include the concerned children in the education system from which they had been excluded. The project received a positive review as well as co-financing from a Jesuit organisation in the United States.

In Bishkek, volunteers cooperated with local schools, worked at the educational centre run by the Svet Lubvi Foundation and conducted activities in centres for children with disabilities. They also provided Ruka v Ruke, an organisation working with autistic children and adolescents, with materials for sensory education and materials to support the Montessori educational method. The volunteer stationed there conducted a series of two-day workshops for that organisation’s caregivers and teachers (four training hours each for a total of sixteen training hours). The workshops concerned the use of the Montessori method and sensory education materials. Topics covered included assistance in reading, writing, counting, music and eurhythmics, and practice-oriented classes. The aims of this measure were the psychophysical development of autistic children and the development of educational spaces for the benefit of those children.

Work in a social welfare home in Bishkek

Twice a week the volunteers visited senior citizens living in a social welfare home in Bishkek and prepared educational and cultural activities for them. These activities included encounters with poetry, film screenings, a dance course, an English language course, and a computer literacy class. The aim of these activities was to stimulate older people to a more active lifestyle, improve their well-being and encourage them in self-development.

FOTOVOICE workshops took place in both the capital city and Jalal-Abad. Participants included adolescents (in Bishkek, 12 young people of different national minority groups) and Kyrgyz and Uzbek children in Jalal-Abad (18 young people). The subject matter of the workshops was the photovoice method, and the workshops included engagements in practical photographic and journalistic tasks as well as educational games.

In Jansi, a village on Issyk-Kul lake, the Svet Lubvi organisation has a resort where they hold summer camps for children of impoverished families from southern Kyrgyzstan. The volunteers cooperated in running the camp attended by 20 children and adolescents with disabilities (physical and intellectual) aged 6 to 18. The children were accompanied by their mothers. The volunteers were involved in the day-to-day operation of the camp centre and assisted in maintaining and improving its infrastructure. They also organised sightseeing tours, activities for the children and adolescents (arts and sports), and evening dances, among other things – all of which contributed to the psychophysical development of the children and young people with disabilities and provided them with an adequate vacation and a sense of well-being. Additionally, the volunteers helped the kitchen staff.

The volunteers also participated in charity campaigns. They engaged in charity drives for the benefit of approximately 500 people, including charges of a children’s home in Osh, pensioners of a retirement home in the vicinity of Jalal-Abad and charges of a social welfare home in Kyzyl-Kyya. The objective was to improve the quality of life of the people concerned: to improve their well-being and to strengthen their interpersonal bonds. The volunteers visited the aforementioned centres, organised cultural events and prepared food parcels for all of their inhabitants. The volunteers also assisted in organisation, selection and distribution of parcels with humanitarian aid.

Work at a children's home near Bishkek

The beneficiaries of this measure were the children and adolescents (more than 50 people) of a children’s home located in the village of Kirg-sholk near Bishkek. These were children with problematic access to education from dysfunctional families. The measure included preparation and execution of educational and cultural activities addressed to these individuals. Activities were undertaken in order to ensure the psychophysiological development of the charges of that centre: to familiarise them with informal education methods for learning and experiencing the wider world and to improve their social, linguistic and vocational skills.

Work in Jalal-Abad

The project work in Jalal-Abad included community development (through activities for the benefit of the local community, especially for its children and youth), English language courses for children and youth, educational activities for children at risk of social exclusion, activities aimed at improving access to education for children from children’s homes, activities for children with dysfunctions, and support for grassroots social initiatives in the cities of Jalal-Abad and Bishkek.