Walking in Kara Suu

Turaim is 6 years old.  Problems with her birth left her unable to walk normally, so she has spent most of her life sitting and watching the world go by.  Amazingly, her older brother Ali has had similar problems and a similar limited life.  However, that has changed a little for the children because their neighbor works as the bookkeeper for CDI-Kara Suu.  This man mentioned the family to his colleagues.  While the Kara-Suu office has worked primarily in the areas of community health and vocational training, the staff knew that the Bishkek and Jalal-abad offices have done a great deal with special needs children.

So after some consultation with staff in Jalal-abad, Andreas in Kara Suu (with some help from his visiting son) were able to construct walkers for Turaim and Ali.  In the culture here there is stigma from having a disabled child.  CDI not only gave these children a little dignity by helping them walk, we are able to encourage the parents that all children are a gift and deserve love and care.


Camp Mighty Eagle

My name is Farohiddin. I am 14 years old, in the 9th grade. Last summer, I went to a remarkable camp. It was a family camp, organized by CDI Kara-Suu staff members Erna and Andreas.  In early July, 75 of us left together for the camp, stopping along the way for a picnic and some get-to-know-you games.  That was only the beginning of a great time.

Every day we had 3 delicious meals. One day we went on a half-day hike and another day we hiked up to a crystal-clear mountain lake with glaciers behind it and a long snowfield we could slide down. It was amazing to play on snow in the summer! Watching the sun rise every morning warmed not only my face but my heart. Games, handicrafts– like building a kite–and learning many facts about the eagle made this camp a very special experience. I made new friends and improved my English by talking with the foreign visitors who helped with the camp. I was so glad my father took time off work so that we could make unforgettable memories together.  I hope in the future I can be a small group leader at camp too.

.P1070419 copy P1070477 copy

Seeing Results

Work with disabled children is a slow process, and we seldom get to see the fruit of our labors.  One CDI staff member was going about his physical therapy business, when the mother of one of the disabled kids stop by.  “Monty” didn’t think much of it because this mom frequently stopped by to see her son, one of the boys Monty does therapy with.  But this day was different.  The lady wasn’t just coming by to visit her son but to get the documentation, collect his things, and take the boy home from the institution!

“Why are you taking him back now?” Monty asked, with a mixture of surprise and relief.

The mother answered quickly, “Because he can walk now!”

Monty’s hours of repetitive therapy paid off for this boy, and Monty was gratified by the chance to see results.


A Remarkable Outing

In much of the world, an afternoon in nature, barbecuing a delicious meal is an ordinary–if welcome–break from the routine. For the kids from the disabled children’s orphanage outside of the city of Bishkek, however, this is not a typical weekend getaway but a rare and exciting occasion to get out of the walled-in institution and to touch and explore everything that they possibly can. When we all arrived at our picnic spot, part of our team prepared and grilled the meat, the other part walked the kids Soviet-era children’s camp, exploring trails that were wheelchair-friendly enough to push through.

When the explorers had satisfied their curiosity, they travelled to the rushing river to splash around in the cold water, thrill in the feel of the water running across their bare feet, throwing rocks and sinking their hands into the mud next to the river’s banks, being like any other kid would be in their place. This time came to an end far too quickly, but they were just as eager to leave the riverside as they were to get to it in the first place, as now the plates overflowing with BBQed meat, pickles and chips, with as many refills as anyone wanted.
Most of them elected to lay around under the shade of the trees once the meal was over, clearly drowsy from the great feast they had partaken in, while a few of the more energetic ones decided to return to the river for photos and more play. What seemed to be only minutes was then proved to have been hours as the orphanage bus returned, and all the glowing happy-faced kids were bundled up for their return trip to their current home. Choruses of thank yous poured out of the van windows in Russian, Kyrgyz and English as the waving kids drove off and out of our sight, and our memory making time together came to an end for that particular special day.
18221599_10155312081404250_3060035499398788963_n                              18222465_10155312079314250_9123651448044742567_n,

Volunteer in the Village

What’s a great way to help people while you explore your own interests and talents?  Volunteer with CDI!  Marvin B. came from Germany to Kyrgyzstan for 6 months, helping tutor German children of CDI staff and doing work in the community.  One of Marvin’s biggest contributions was in the preschool (kindergarten) in a village outside the city of Osh.  Marvin helped decorate the boring blank walls of the building with paintings of cartoon characters the children knew and loved.  Teachers and even some of the children got into the act.  And the new walls were ready in time for the big celebration for visiting dignitaries.  It made the perfect backdrop for the children’s songs, dances, and costumes.  Now CDI is looking into other ways to help and support this preschool.  DSCF8413-(Large)comp

Change Your Life

Women in a village not far from Bishkek heard some new information recently.  And that information brought about big changes.  The CDI seminar “Change Your Life” focused on stress management through fitness, stretching, massage, and nutrition,  with additional input regarding anger management, conflict resolution, forgiveness, and inner thought life.

Chinara has a houseful of children and grandchildren.  When she lost her own mother recently, she wasn’t sure how she would cope.  But Chinara said the practical tips and good information from the seminar gave her peace.  She discovered she could control her anger better and speak to the children more kindly.

Many families in Kyrgyzstan live in a multi-generational situation.  Aidai, who attended the Change Your Life seminar, struggled with living with her mother-in-law.  But the seminar gave her a new approach.  Here’s what she said afterwards: “I have been harboring unforgiveness in my heart against my mother-in-law for many years now, but after the Conflict Resolution and Forgiveness lessons, I decided to talk to her about it and try to resolve this conflict between us. We have to live in the same house together, and I have refused to talk to her or even hang her picture in my room these many years. After the lessons, I decided to be open and honest with my mother-in-law about how much she had hurt me. But when I tried to share about this with her, she denied it and said it never happened, and that I must have dreamed it! But regardless of that, I have felt forgiveness for her in my heart. I have experienced peace in my heart, and I have even re-hung her picture in its place (next to my father-in-law’s picture) on the wall in my bedroom.”

Fitness lesson.2crop


Proud Display

“Sherzod” dashed joyfully into the cold, dingy classroom. Two years ago he never would have guessed that he would enjoy another course at school. But the wood-working class is different. The German master carver treats him like a respectable man, not just a school boy. Sherzod’s chest puffs up with pride as he thinks of how his skill has grown.

Boys like Sherzod, apprentices in CDI’s wood-carving program in the Kara Suu region, recently showed off their creations with pride and joy. And CDI’s program showed off the value of such opportunities to parents, local school directors, and government representatives. The hope is that they will use their influence to expand the program.


For the last year, a handful of both first and second year apprentices were trained five afternoons a week in wood-carving, drawing design, math, and English to give them the skills they will need both to create quality work and to make a living doing that. And the work goes on! Earlier this year four more boys completed CDI’s two-month course for determining aptitude and interest in wood-carving. Two will begin next year as first-year apprentices.


Prototype for Warmth

Now that cold weather has set in, there is one village medical clinic in Kyrgyzstan that will be warmer this year than in years past.fap

Staff from the Kara Suu office of CDI travelled to the remote mountain village of Bekjar to lead local workers in the construction of a more efficient furnace.  The Kara Suu group has lots of experience building these furnaces now, but they experimented with some improvements at Bekjar.  These included a different formulation of mortar for the brick exterior, a new way of creating joints between the top and bottom of the stove, and using higher quality fireproof bricks.  The team was pleased that it only took three and a half days to build the furnace.

Because it’s in the medical clinic, many people in the village will see this furnace.  If they want to have built in their own homes, they can hire CDI-trained contractors to do the work.  So village people can have warm homes and good jobs.building-furnace

Helpful Horses

The Bishkek CDI office is pleased to announce that the therapeutic riding program is up and running, with 3 horses ready for gentle, nurturing action. Kids who have been touched by the Children at Risk project staff in the homes for disabled children are candidates for riding therapy.

Bakit didn’t seem at first like a good candidate, though. At 8 years old, he was terrified of the horses when he first got near them. In addition, both arms and legs are affected by cerebral palsy, and Bakit had very little trunk control, which is necessary to sit on a horse at all. Bakit’s first session of therapeutic riding had much more crying and flopping around than horse riding—he was barely on the horse for 5 minutes. But the team decided to keep at for 2 weeks before re-evaluation as to whether or not this was the ightherapy for Bakit. We’re happy to report that after the 2 weeks—4 sessions—Bakit was glad to see the horses when he arrived at the stable, and he was able to ride for a good 10 minutes. After 2 months, he’s riding for 20-25 minutes with very good head and trunk control. He sits up straight with head held high and a big smile on his beautiful face. And there’s a bonus. The cerebral palsy had affected Bakit’s ability to speak, but since he’s been riding, he’s starting to talk a little too


Celebrating Accomplishment


Altyn and Nazokat were thankful they at least had each other. The sisters having cerebral palsy meant that they couldn’t do all the things other children do in Kyrgyzstan, but their grandparents had given them a good home and some life skills. However, when the girls’ grandmother died, their aging grandfather couldn’t care for them, so Nazokat and Altyn had to go live at the state institution for disabled children in Jalal-abad. Nazokat was especially depressed to be in the place. But life improved a bit for the two girls, and a number of others in the children’s home, when the CDI-sponsored education for disabled children started. Altyn and Nazokat, along with others in their orphanage, learned basic reading and writing. “School” brought a break in the orphanage routine and a good dose of self-esteem. The school year ended with a presentation for parents and orphanage staff, and a fun picnic lunch.

CDI recently completed our third year of education for disabled children, this year expanding to the orphanage in the south of the country in Jalal-abad. Some 50 children, in 3 institutions, received education. They also got certificates to prove their accomplishments.

Classes start again soon. And no one is sad about back-to-school here!


CDI staff with children at the year-end celebration.