Thanksgiving Fall

Lately the children in the children’s home have been learning a lot of new things. They’re attending school classes, handy craft lessons and basic life-skills lessons.

We are so proud of them and want to let everyone know what they’ve learned these past months. That’s why we decided to throw a party, a Fall party. During this party the children can show what they’ve been learning. The weeks running up to the party, a few of the girls from the walking group also practiced a dance to perform during the Fall party.

Finally, the day of the Fall party arrives. The room fills up with volunteers, staff members and other guests. The children are so excited. They are all dressed up in their best outfit and the girls even put on some make-up. After they all lined up nicely the party starts. They open with a song, then their crafts are shown and they end their presentation by telling a poem one by one. You can see how proud they are from the big smiles on their faces.Afterwards the teachers have some games prepared. They blind fold a child who has to guess what kind of fruit or veggie is in their hands. Even some staff members participate in the games.

And of course a party without food and dancing is no party at all, so we ate cake and danced till everyone was tired and ready to take a nap.


Summer Camp Memories

Weather is changing, along with the leaves in Kyrgyzstan, and as children finish their first quarter of school many are looking back fondly on summer camp memories.

CDI partnered with one summer camp this year with a Chronicles of Narnia theme. Every counselor had a character-based group of kids: Centaurs, Beavers, Fauns, Foxes etc. Aslan was played by the camp director. Each day also had its own character-building themes including hospitality, friendship, overcoming temptation, forgiveness, kindness, and more.

Team-building games and sharing times knit the groups closer than even the staff could have imagined on the first day. Many children opened up about life experiences they had never shared before. They sensed that this was a safe space and learned to trust their counselors and group-mates.  Mentally healthier children can help build stronger communities.



Professional Guests

A doctor, nurse, physical therapist, speech therapist and a special needs teacher, all on one dream team. One week, 2 home visits, 3 training seminars, 4 visits to the special needs children’s home, and dozens of children with more exact diagnoses and therapy plans.


The speech therapist shows CDI staff how to massage a child’s cheeks.


CDI caregivers learn how to help this 8-year-old boy get up on his knees.

The team split up at different times during the week, giving focused training and consultations in their field. The nurse and doctor visited villages with CDI’s Community Health Education team as part of an ongoing Women’s Health seminar. The therapists and teacher joined a parents’ support group and offered new ideas specifically for the special needs children who attended with their mothers.

CDI staff absorbed all the training and hands-on practice we could, asking questions about kids we work with as well as general principles for working with special needs.  It’s all part of CDI’s commitment to developing people in communities.

Visit to Lovely Soul

This four-year-old’s name literally means “Lovely Soul.” When she grins, you can see that it’s a good fit.

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We’ve been visiting her for one year, and last time we complemented her mom on how much progress we saw. She is slowly learning to sit on her own, drink from an open dish and train her core muscles.

At Christmastime we brought her a present that included a pair of sunglasses that she sports well.

CDI visits 3 to 4 families with special eeds children every week. We take time to talk with the parents about their struggles and questions as well as doing play therapy with the children. Many of the children know us by name and eagerly



await our visits. Parents express their appreciation; many of them have no one else to talk to about their special children.

Birthday Picnics

“Who would give $25 to provide a birthday party for a child who’s never had one before?” This was the challenge to my friends on social media. The response was enough to keep CDI partying for the rest of the year! The hope is to give every child at the local institution for children with special needs a birthday to remember.

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For the first two parties CDI staff and volunteers brought children to a hill near the city where they could be out in nature, pick flowers and get outside the institution. For many of the children it was their first trip to the hill; they gazed with round eyes as they drove through trees and saw their first glimpse of distant mountains.

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Sitting in the shade of pistachio trees, the children feasted on homemade sandwiches and birthday cake, fruit, juice and carrot salad. The first trip was with girls who can walk, so they strolled along the hill picking flowers before gathering to play volleyball. The second group is more mobility-challenged, so they did crayon rubbings of leaves and flowers.

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At the end of both picnics the children were told how these parties were made possible; they said a big “Thank You!”

Hockey Tournament Extraordinaire




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At the whistles blow, orange and green jerseys shot off after the wife ball, hockey sticks low to the ground. The game lasted only nine minutes but both teams scored twice. Then orange swapped out for the black, and the tournament continued.

CDI’s sport project has been teaching floorball in four different schools over the past year and the students had a chance to test their skills against each other in an all-day long tournament. At first, in their excitement, they forgot about passing, everyone trying for the goal themselves. Fortunately, each team had a coach who reminded them of their teamwork training and the kids started working together.
The top three teams received medals and every school was given a certificate of participation.

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Floorball is a new sport in Southern Kyrgyzstan but it’s taking off very well. Students participate eagerly, and older youth have formed community teams that come together for weekly games at a public stadium. One team even made their own equipment so that they can practice during the week.  Stay tuned for the latest scores!

Parenting Success


CDI Jalalabad has 6 different health and relationship seminar series but was looking to add more.  So we asked our local staff, “What do you want to learn?”  They asked us for help in training their children.  Well, not exactly in those words, but it is true that parents in this culture love their children and want what’s best for them, but sometimes don’t know where to turn when they get stuck.

CDI is blessed to have some foreigners on staff who have focused on ways to be good parents for many years.  They decided to take 5 weeks to share something each week about what they have learned with the local staff.  They used personal stories, skits, videos, and pictures to teach various topics:   What is success in parenting? What do children need?  What is the best form of correction?  How do children feel loved?  Why is asking for forgiveness important?

The local staff were model students, not just taking in the teaching as head knowledge, but changing their own practice too.  Every week they shared how they had applied what they had learned the previous week, and how their children responded.

Now they are doing the work of translating the lessons and creating skits and illustrations that will best fit their culture. This will enable them to pass on the lessons they have learned for themselves to others in the community through our Community Health Education program.

We were excited to see the success and growth that our staff felt in this area of parenting and are looking forward to seeing the impact in the wider community. We’re glad that we could help!

Timothy’s Day


IMG_8126“Timothy” never smiles. He keeps his eyes on the ground and scoots silently out of the way if someone comes near. Every day he sits in a bare room passing the time listening to 15 other kids yell and fight.

But not today. Today Timothy and 5 others from his group were taken to the park for the first time in their lives.

Today someone pushed him around in a wheelchair and pointed out the sights.

Today someone talked to him, lifted him into the carousel and bought him 3 ice creams.

Today someone’s goal was to make Timothy smile.






This summer CDI is working in cooperation with the Children’s Home to bring every kid who can to the park at least once. They love the attention, the rides, sights, sounds and ice cream.



We’ve been surprised at the reaction from people in the park. Vendors and ride attendants told us not to pay for the rides and snacks. Other park goers are surprised, saying, “We didn’t know there were kids like this. Where are they from? Why are you helping them?” Awareness is rising in the community and we hope it brings more good attention for the Children’s Home.

For Timothy and others like him, this first day of smiling is just the beginning. He deserves to smile every day; we are working to make that possible.

Nanny Massage

It’s fun to see two projects overlap!

One year after starting our work in the Jalalabad Children’s Home, the nannies there invited us to teach a massage seminar. These women work 12 hour shifts, lifting children, changing diapers, bending over to feed them and carry heavy, wet clothes. “Teach us massage! Our backs ache, our heads ache, our arms and legs ache. We really need it!”


For five consecutive weeks the trainers taught about Head and Neck massage, Back, Arm, Leg, Self massage and Baby massage. The Baby massage techniques can also be used on some of the disabled children who lay in bed all day. Their muscles get tight and spastic, but massage can help relieve this tension. The massage lessons were also intended for the nannies to use at home with their families.

Each session also addressed more than physical health and included a relationship lesson. These topics were particularly helpful for the nannies as they work with the children in the home. Topics covered were: The importance of our words, Training Children, Colors, Smells, and Encouraging Others.


Everyone especially liked learning some basic stretches to use on a daily basis. One nanny taught her grandkids head and neck stretches. Another found the back strenthening “Superman” stretch especially effective. The children’s home nurse told us she is now giving massages to her husband and mother.


As we had hoped, these seminars are blessing the nannies, their families and the kids at the Children’s Home.

Education: Round Two

Displaying 2nd grade graduation certificates

Displaying 2nd grade graduation certificates

We recently celebrated our second school year with the students from the disabled children’s orphanage in Belivodsk.

Celebration party

Celebration party

The director told us that this is the first program of its kind for disabled children in Central Asia.  Twelve students went through the school this year; for some it was their second year through the program, for others, it was their first.


We have seen so much change in the hearts of the kids, how they treat each other and view the world.  This group of kids knows that without any hope of education, their future is bleak.  They all are so happy to be given this opportunity.  When we asked one of the students what this opportunity means, she responded that it means “Everything.”


There has been a lot of attention on this class and the Ministry of Social Welfare is beginning to recognize our efforts.  This fall we will start two more schools, giving a total of three schools especially for disabled children.



We are also hoping to start this program in Jalalabad, where our CDI team is working in an orphanage similar to Belivodsk.  The director has said she will help us start a school there for 10-12 students.  In the village of Molovodnia, the director of an orphanage said she would like to partner with us as well.  We are so excited to see this project expand and we dream of seeing another in the city of Talas in the near future and maybe in Naryn too!

If anyone is interested in finding out more please email Kyle Zimmerle at