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.

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.”

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Lives Changing

In June, CDI Bishkek’s Women’s Community Health Education team completed their first set of seven health lessons in a village one hour outside of Bishkek. This weekly training set covered topics such as healthy pregnancy, pregnancy nutrition, menopause, and other women’s health issues. While the physical health lessons were helpful, most of the participants found the relational lessons to be the most life-impacting. Recently the team met with the women to ask if they wanted to start another series. The overwhelming answer was, “Yes!” At that gathering every woman had a personal testimony of how the seminar is changing her family and personal life. Listen to what some participants said:

“I have a teenage brother, and we haven’t had a good relationship. I would beat him because he wouldn’t obey me. In the seminar Parenting Teenagers, we received handouts, so I took them home and read them to my family. I explained them to my little brother using kind words and we have started a good relationship. My mother is also trying. My brother is obeying us now, and the relationship between us is changing.”

The seminar has brought peace and agreement to this family and now they have more joy. When Ajar talks about herself and these things, tears well up in her eyes.

Another participant wrote: “I am learning through the Right Relationships seminar how to improve my relationship with my husband, my children and my relatives. I have a good relationship with my husband, but I believe in the future, it can be even better. If you come with more lessons prepared like these, it would be very good.”

When we taught about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) we discussed how most STDs can be prevented through a monogamous relationship with your spouse. Some of the women said, “Yes, but how can we keep our husbands faithful?” This gave us a great opportunity to share about husband and wife relationships. With material pulled from the Eggeriches’ book Love and Respect, we talked about how a husband that feels respected in his home is more likely to stay at home! We talked about a list of “24 Ways to Respect Your Husband.” One of the attendees recently shared that she posted this list on the wall in her house. She is trying to show her husband more respect and she’s been amazed at how it has improved their relationship!

Another mom shared that her husband also reads the handouts she’s brought home from the trainings, and he has stopped yelling at the kids so much, and is trying to practice some of the parenting suggestions provided.

It is encouraging to see women’s lives being changed through practical knowledge and their desire to practice what they are learning. We are anticipating great results from the next seminar called “Staying Young” which covers topics like healthy lifestyle, stress management and exercise.


Everyone is engaged in the lesson.

Everybody Gains!

In April of 2016 the CDI Bishkek office started up our women’s community health education project. We were able to hire two trainers. One of our trainers is experienced, having come from our Jalalabad office, but our other trainer was hired brand new with no previous experience. She is a very sweet lady, but very quiet and reserved. We weren’t sure how she would do as a trainer. She admitted herself that she had never spoke in front of other people, or taught anything, and she wasn’t sure she’d be able to do it. But she shared that she’d been looking for a way to give back to her community. She’s very artistic and had sewn curtains for her church, but beyond that she never really felt like she had much to offer. She shared with tears in her eyes, that after 4 years of art training, her husband and family had mocked her for years for having a useless profession and said she would never find a job or be able to earn money for her family. When the opportunity to work for CDI came along, she decided to take it, though it was way outside her comfort zone. Also, because of a past head injury, she’d been told that she wasn’t smart enough retain information and teach anyone. However, she has proved them all wrong. Working for CDI she has discovered that she is a person of value, and that there is a place for her talents and she has worthwhile things to say and share with others. She has gone from being a very shy, reserved person to learning how to speak out her thoughts and opinions and how to teach others about healthy living, which she has learned is not just about physical health, but also about emotional, relational, and spiritual health.

In her own words, she shared these comments: “As I have shared with the women in the village, I am also learning. When I prepared the Love and Respect seminar, I asked myself the question, “Am I using in my own life what I am teaching to others?” When my husband came home from work I asked him, “What is more important to you, love or respect?” Statistics say that respect is most important for men. I was afraid he’d give the “wrong” answer, but my husband also answered that for him respect is most important! I was embarrassed because I had not shown him enough respect. Right then, I asked my husband to forgive me and I explained the reason why.”

She also has said, “I have worked for 3 months now in this project and I like this work. When I prepare the lessons I get lots of information. I use this information when I meet with my sisters and I tell them what I learned. Our lives are not changing fast, but we are trying to change. These lessons are not only for me, but all women like them. They receive all the information with joy and when we see this we are also filled with joy.”

Seeing our own trainers’ lives being changed through what they are teaching is a powerful example of how effective participatory community learning can be. We feel that the project is off to a great start and can’t wait to see what the future will bring.

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Trainers presenting a skit at the beginning of the lesson.

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Participatory lesson


Celebrating Health

The Home Health course provided by the Jalal-abad office of CDI in the village of Arkalyk recently wrapped up with a big celebration.  Office director Ron Manila attended the celebration.  The event began with participants and trainers seated around a traditional Kyrgyz dasturkan, or tablecloth, covered with salads, breads, and sweet.  CDI staff invited the participants to share highlights of the course.  Jumakhan told of learning that various sorts of beans are rich in proteins and other nutrients.  She said her family had planted them in their garden this spring for the first time.  Sonun remembered that the relational lesson about gossip had helped her refrain from saying negative things about her neighbors.  Iris remarked that she is enforcing hand washing with her grandchildren now.

The group shared a meal of osh, a traditional rice pilaf dish,  The CDI trainers admonished the participants to keep practicing and sharing what they learned.  Then all the participants received an official certificate and a copy of the home health book Where There Is No Doctor in the Kyrgyz language.


Health course graduates with CDI staff.

CDI trainers have hopes of doing more seminars in Arkalyk as the community is open to new ideas and to change.

Test Day Jitters

Fatima was less nervous the second time. She wasn’t thrilled that she had to do an oral exam after every four lessons on the home health course. But that was a requirement to complete the course and get the book Where There is No Doctor, in her own language—not Russian! She really wanted that book, just like everyone on the course.

So, for the first exam, she studied her notes, right up to the last minute. She was pleased to find that the health trainers, from CDI in Jalal-abad, were not strict, that the test was really more of a conversation about the material than a contest to see if participants performed well.

So Fatima was relaxed for her second test. She peacefully discussed such matters as the need for dental floss and how tolerance develops with alcohol use. While Fatima already knew some of the subject matter, other areas became more clear to her, like the reasons for finishing a whole course of antibiotics, to prevent super-bugs. And the relational lessons, like dealing with gossip and helping friends with depression, were easy to talk about with the trainers.


Remembering details to tell the eagerly listening trainer.

Now Fatima is looking forward to the closing celebration in late April when she’ll have her precious book in hand!

Joint Project for Boys

P1080600For young men growing up in villages in Central Asia, answers to questions about their blossoming sexuality are hard to find. Young people don’t feel comfortable discussing such matters with their parents. That vacuum leaves teen-agers to find answers in the movies and from other poorly informed young people.

CDI began addressing this lack some 2 years ago by teaching seminars to boys and girls separately. The seminars cover topics such as puberty, self-respect, respect of the opposite sex, and maintaining sexual purity. In late February the Jalal-abad and Kara Suu offices came together to improve young men’s health in the Kashgar Qishloq region. The four-lesson seminars usually happen over a one-month period, but the Kara Suu office called for binge-teaching!

Two staff from the Jalal-abad office travelled to Kara Suu where they met with young men and teachers from 5 schools in the area. They spent the morning doing all four seminars back-to-back. After lunch, CDI staff from both offices helped the young men prepare materials to equip them to pass on what they had learned to others in their own schools.

During one segment, students and teachers were in separate gatherings. There the young men really opened up to CDI staff, asking questions about intimate issues and gaining answers from a concerned adult male.

Kara Suu staff will follow up with teachers and students in the schools, insuring the dissemination of helpful information for young men in the area.

Food Education for Health

IMG_20150828_130737“A few sweets won’t hurt.”
“Meat and fat are bad for diabetes.”

One lady takes a photo of which foods are allowed

One lady takes a photo of which foods are allowed

The ladies in this health education lesson were hard at work deciding which food items make up a suitable diet for those with type two diabetes. After some basic teaching about diabetes, including the effect of different foods on blood sugar levels, we asked them to group pictures of food into three groups; foods that can be eaten freely, those okay in small quantities and those which shouldn’t be eaten at all.

After much discussion back and forth the group finished moving our food pictures into the three groups and we looked at each group of foods in turn. Overall they did a good job, only a few items in the wrong category. We corrected these with an explanation of how those foods affect blood sugar levels. During this lesson we were able to address some common misconceptions about a healthy diet for diabetics and teach about the different types and causes of diabetes.

Participants receive health handbooks

Participants receive health handbooks

In addition to our physical topic, we discussed the relational topic of gossip. We used the game ‘Chinese whispers’ to illustrate how gossip can be passed on. This sparked an interesting discussion about why gossip happens and how it can be prevented.

This was the final lesson in this module of health education lessons during which we looked at how a healthy diet can help prevent and treat common sicknesses including kidney stones, urine infections, high blood pressure and diabetes. At the end the attendees were excited to receive a copy of a women’s health handbook. We encouraged them to teach others what they had learned and pass these health books around their families and neighborhoods so that many women can benefit.

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!

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.