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My Home Project

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Do you know that UN Women launched its annual 16-days of activism against gender-based violence campaign? It is an international campaign that kicks off on November 25 and lasts for 16 days. I remember while staying in the US, in 2014 we implemented a project to educate young women and men on the issue of bride-kidnapping. Today, bride-kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan can have various forms, for example, as a consensual ” forced” or non-consensual marriage.  

Bride kidnapping is a social and public health issue in Kyrgyzstan. It is still real in the 21st century. Despite all measures, violence is skyrocketing throughout the world. Even if abused women are silent about being abused, statistics do not lie. Yes, statistics may not be accurate because of the women who do not report, who are afraid to report, or because they do not have any means to report. Some cases of reported violence may not even be taken seriously because it is considered normal between spouses.

In 2014, my project “No More Bride-Kidnapping!” would not be successful without Open Society Foundations, instructors, students, and trainers from Open Line, a local nonprofit organization that is still actively helping women in need in Kyrgyzstan. This is a tragedy of our society. Yes, there are some happy end cases, but how many? In the past, I mistakenly believed that bride-kidnapping was our tradition, but it is not. Our tradition could be arranged marriages, but not bride-kidnapping. There are so many people who still believe that bride-kidnapping is a Kyrgyz tradition for marriages. 

Education helps prevent the issue. Hopefully, that project had an impact on some of those young men and women and educated them on the negative consequences of bride-kidnapping.

What do survey statistics suggest us about bride-kidnapping consequences?

  • Increased school drop-out rates 
  • Increased cases of domestic violence
  • Increased rates of depression and suicidal behavior
  • Decreased quality of life among young women
  • And many more

When I had a skype conversation with Munara Beknazarova, a director of Open Line nonprofit, she said that abused women who lived in the capital of Kyrgyzstan could get respective support because many nonprofits are located there. Sadly enough, 66% of the population lives in rural areas because Kyrgyzstan is a 95% mountainous country, where there is limited access to protection services. Many cases of violence happen in rural areas. There is not much help for women or anyone who want to escape from violence. 

Hopefully, rural areas of Kyrgyzstan will have more government and nonprofit organizations that will provide social and emergency support for people affected by violence. Thank you to Open Society Foundations, UN Women, Naryn Pedagogical College, and Open Line foundation for helping me implement my initiative, but most importantly for their work that is a contributing factor in creating a better society.

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I am thankful…

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Thanksgiving was different this year for me. Yet, there are three main reasons why I celebrate Thanksgiving. First of all, it is evidence-based that being thankful is directly related to your wealth, health, and happiness. Secondly, this holiday is widely celebrated in the US, and I want my family to be assimilated with American culture because we live in the US. Last but not least, this is a time when you get together with your family and/or friends to celebrate.

Here are some events I am thankful for.

Every time I think about my life in the US, I think of it as a great journey thanks to all my friends, colleagues, and of course, my family. I think about all the caring people who I encountered since I landed in the US in 2012.

Leaving my country with a small bag and 300 dollars in cash, I did not expect that I would get everything for free. Yet, I knew I would be alright because I had my mindset programmed as if I had everything. A huge thank you to International Friends, a community organization, for organizing a Giveaway Event for international students of Washington University in St. Louis in August 2012. It was like from having nothing to everything or being broke to becoming a millionaire. Can you imagine? Bed, pillows, blankets, kitchenware, furniture, tables, and many more for free. Really? It blew my mind to see how many people you do not know are willing to help you.

Also, Kanykei, a young woman from Kyrgyzstan, had left a few boxes for me. I saw my name on them. It was so amazing to feel welcomed and supported, especially when you come to an unknown country. Thank you to Brian, Chioma, Rachel, Brenden, Sean, Nicholas, and many others! Thank you to each and everyone who supported me, guided me and helped me with my studies.

I am thankful to Zinaida and Phyllis. Phyllis is my ex-landlord, and Zinaida is originally from Kyrgyzstan. I think of Phyllis and Zinaida as my family because they care about me, as mothers. They always help me. In 2015, one of my friends did not believe me when I said: “I got 5,000 dollars!” My friend told me: “Americans never give money, especially to an international person like you.” I proved him wrong. It has been several years, and they still support me.

Thank you to my friend Liesl and her family, who are always there for me when needed. I appreciate everything she does, but two things I will always remember: she was there with me when I delivered my son in 2015, and she found a close friend for my eldest teen daughter who needed a friend. Now, they are best friends, and I love it. 

On this day, during my graduate school years, Greg and his wonderful spouse Martha used to invite all students to treat with Thanksgiving dinner. They always arranged a ride for such students, like me, who did not have vehicles. I am thankful for these kinds of memories.

I also want to thank my parents, who helped me raise my four children, who invested in my education and believed in me. I would not achieve so much without the support of my siblings, parents, and friends.

Thank you, God, for gifting my family with so many blessings.

Check out this link on how to live the life you want.

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Now I know…

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I wonder, what do flamingos have that make people want to buy them? I saw pictures of flamingos in the past, but I knew nothing about these pink birds.

To me, flamingos were like every other bird. I searched online to see what was so fascinating about them. I found the beauty after finding its meaning. The main symbolisms of Flamingos are care, protection, and harmony and they may be related to families, especially, during uncertain times.  They are social creatures, like people. These birds are connected with each other and live in large groups.

Flamingos are a good reminder to all of us, they show us that we can work hard, and live with joy while being present. Now I know they are so famous because of their known attributes, such as family, relationships, joy, equality, healing, and balance.

    Continue reading “Now I know…”

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“Live and Learn”

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Coming from Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, one of the developing countries, I was determined to be a teacher and I had worked as a teacher  for five years or so.  However, my personal life experiences have helped me with my decision to become a social worker, leader, mentor, and just a good enough mom. I believe, in spite of all challenges, my world takes care of me and my children. This blog is a way of keeping my mind busy and redirecting my focus on something positive. These are the stories and experiences that are related to me directly or indirectly. These are the steps of me learning and navigating the process of blogging. I am not perfect, I do many mistakes, but I take actions in order to understand.

There is no perfect time to start blogging. Start now, and learn slowly by clicking and reading the prompts. It is not that complicated, just take your time to navigate the system. It is relatively easy to open your own website. It is harder to discipline yourself and learn every day consistently depending on your goals of blogging. Click here to begin with:

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Let’s talk

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How do you communicate with your teen child? You see, I used to have communication challenges with my teen daughter, especially during puberty. I was confused about my methods of raising a child because they stopped working. Where is my small, innocent, and obedient baby? I came to the reality that my child was no longer a child. She was a teenager.

During that time, I was lucky to listen to one of the psychologists who advised parents like me:

“Talk to your teen in the same manner, as if you are talking to your spouse.”

This comparison is so powerful. It is so simple to remember, and it worked.

In short, be mindful of what to say, when to say, and how to say it to your teen child.

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Did you know?

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Did you know how much trash you generate each day? On average, it is close to five pounds. Only in the US, we produce about 728,000 tons of daily garbage. We could have recycled over 75% of waste from that trash. 

Though National America Recycles Day is November 15, I believe we can celebrate it every day by recycling our own trash, whether it’s at home, at work, or wherever we are.  

As parents, we can raise our children to be environmentally conscious. As consumers, we can challenge local companies to have corporate social responsibility strategies (CSR). As leaders, we can initiate, develop, and execute CSR to address priority needs of the community. 

It is crucial to Recycle, Reuse, and Reduce so that we can conserve more and save more.

A BOY CALLING FOR HIS MOM

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This video represents all social orphans worldwide. A toddler from Kyrgyzstan was told that his mother flew away by airplane to another country to earn money. This is a real issue in Kyrgyzstan where migration leaves hundreds of thousands of social orphans behind. In most cases parents do not have any other choice. This maybe one of the survival strategies to support their children and families because there are no jobs in their own country. Or the job they have in their own country may pay too little and not enough to survive.

Basically, a child who is abandoned by their mother or father in search of earnings from another country, can be a social orphan. Social orphans then live with their uncles, aunts, grandparents, or in worse case scenarios, they are placed in the orphanages or government facilities. Most studies show that children who are raised without their parents, have some symptoms of emotional, behavioral, and psychological disorders. These symptoms most likely can lead to more severe consequences in adulthood. Unless, parents realize how to act in the best interest of their children.     

In my case, my children were raised by my parents for a few years. I had to work and travel to different cities and countries until I realized that my absence had affected my children even though my parents had done everything for them. In spite of the challenges, I decided that my children should be with me. As Frederick Douglass said: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”

Video is here

Click here for more ways to help Kyrgyzstan.

You’d better be off and running!

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While reading a book written by Sid Friedman about sales success system, I encountered the old story he wrote about the lion and the gazelle (p.30). I thought it is really nice to share because the moral of this story can be applied in many situations. I compare this story with the mission of moms, whereas the author applied the idea with the success of sales business.

Here is the story:

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
“I must run faster than the fastest lion, or I will be eaten.”
Also every morning, a lion wakes up thinking a similar thought:
“I must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or I will starve to death.”

I completely agree with the morale, which is whether you are a lion or gazelle, you’d better be off and running when the sun comes up!

As a parent, you have so many responsibilities, but the most important and challenging one is to raise independent, healthy, and successful children.

How will we manage that? “…when that sun comes up, we’d better be off and running!”

Why is Social Support Important?

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Save children by helping parents!

Economic hardship influences parental functioning and family relationships. Many researchers found strong association between poverty and physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse.  Therefore, it is so important to utilize formal and informal social support to help parents through education, referrals, information, and financial assistance, especially today. By doing this, we are helping not only adults, but also saving our little ones. In most cases, parents with multiple issues do not know why they abuse their children or fight with each other. The pattern seemed to be consistent with many studies where poor parenting occurs among parents with depressive symptoms, which leads to problematic behavioral outcomes among children of all ages.

 It is all about providing support to parents with multiple problems.  Respective studies prove that social support can be a protective factor and may positively impact on the health of parents and parenting outcomes.

Who can serve as social support? Anyone

  • Friends, relatives, neighbors and others;
  • Institutions, social support groups, health specialists, churches and others.

How can you provide social support to a parent? It is easy, just allocate 10-15 min and ask a parent, a neighbor, or anybody you think needs your help.

Sometimes, it is helpful just to listen to the person, sometimes, it is just to look after kids, or do anything that will help parents with multiple issues.

Today I felt so amazing just because I had a conversation with my neighbor for the first time ever. You may think, this act may help someone, but in fact, it may help you too.

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“It hurts, mom!”

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Toilet training, autism, constipation and diet are closely interrelated. Each time my son was toilet trained, we had drama. I asked for help only when my son cried: “It hurts, mom!” Once again, our experts from special district school helped me. One day, I emailed. Next day, I got a professional response that helped us both in our successful journey of toilet training.

In short, each child is unique. Each mother knows her child best and can find the best strategy that works for them. I became more patient, and waited for the right time; meanwhile I was trying different strategies.

I noticed the progress only when my child was ready to learn. Usually before going to potty, we used respective pictures, read books and watched videos about it over and over again.

Here is one of the great videos that was effective for my child.

Now, my baby is making good progress.

For us, toilet training was a very long and stressful journey. But we made it!

Every parent has their struggles. Always ask for help if needed, you are not alone.

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