In our country, Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, if a person, especially a woman, gets an education from the US or in Europe, they can be heard and valued more. In addition, in order to make a difference at the national level, one should know how to draft, lobby new policies, protect human rights, and be equipped with tools and relevant knowledge. I decided to pursue my master’s degree in the US so as I could be a decision maker at the national level in the nearest future and be of benefit to my country to solve the social issues of women and children in need.
“That was my dream because…”
Being a single mother for about 5 years, my child had to stay with my parents because I had to work. Working in a different city and being so far away from my daughter, I think I sometimes made her feel like an orphan. I thought my second marriage would be better because my spouse had good traits of character. However, I realized that step parenting has its own challenges. I felt my elder daughter had to face another stage of neglect when all the attention was given to the children I had with him. An even worse scenario arose during a time when we faced serious financial difficulties. I thought I would divorce. Yet, I knew it would be difficult for many reasons- there were financial and cultural reasons, but mostly because I didn’t want my children to be without a father.
Domestic violence and acts of abuse against women and girls in the form of “bride kidnapping”, is widespread throughout the Kyrgyz Republic.
I was bride-kidnapped twice. Although it was not traumatic experience like some young Kyrgyz women have, it was still under some pressure and against my will.
I want to work to change this alarming reality and use my experience to help other women in my country. The best solution for me was to pursue master’s degree in Social Work, particularly on domestic violence that affects women and children, including child maltreatment and neglect, so I could address these social issues that plague my country.
In 2012, I was accepted to Washington University in St. Louis to get master’s degree on evidence-based mental health services and programs for children and families and I received a scholarship from Open Society Foundation. I remember that day. I was in Naryn with my one year old boy doing about the house, as a typical Kyrgyz woman, when I got a phone call, I remember that voice of the manager who told me the news….I was screaming out of happiness, my two years of preparation was worth studying. Most importantly, my studies in the US equipped me with knowledge and tools to live a happier life!
Dreams come true, we just need to go towards our dream and work hard!