Nina is 78 and one of Kazakhstan’s elderly poor. Her only family is a daughter, with whom she has a broken relationship, and she’s almost completely blind. Nina’s back was badly injured when she fell many years ago, cleaning windows. She rarely leaves her small apartment. “I’m so lonely – sometimes I forget my Russian words,” she told a Social Welfare officer.

When, not long ago, her upstairs neighbour’s water pipes burst, the water flooded Nina’s kitchen and damaged her cupboards. A team from our Central Asian partners had already been visiting Nina regularly, through their Community Care program, encouraging her and meeting her needs. So, when they heard of her need for a new cupboard they knew they could help.

Clients - Bana Nini

“We heard her before we saw her,” said one of their staff. “We brought her new cupboard up the stairs and though she couldn’t see us, she could hear us. She stood, bent, both hands upon a short, wooden stool for support. When we put the laminate cupboard in the kitchen, Baba Nina began her inspection. She stopped a moment. She put her head on the benchtop, smiled and said, ‘I could fall over with joy.’ As we watched, we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

Even as Baba Nina, disabled and almost blind, experienced friendship and practical help from their team, her story is multiplied many times over in Central Asia, where we regularly ship containers of goods from Hong Kong to help the region’s poor, lonely, unemployed and disabled.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Kazakhstan Snapshot

Population: 17.9 million
Capital: Astana

Kazakhstan is the world’s largest landlocked country by land area and ninth largest country in the world. The climate is continental, with warm summers and colder winters.

The GDP per capita is US$12,950 or around $35 per day. In Hong Kong, the GDP per capita is US$33,534 or $91 per day.

kazkhstan

 

WWAzada was 14 years old when her father asked her to marry one of her cousins, hoping, as is common in some forms of Islam, that a husband who is a relative would treat her better than one who is a ‘stranger’.

It wasn’t the case. Azada’s husband mistreated and abused her. She had two daughters with him, and wondered how she’d ever be able to escape his cruelty. Finally her father agreed she should divorce, and she lived with him in Pakistan, performing difficult and low-paying labor to survive, until the Taliban fell in 2001.

Upon her return to Afghanistan’s capital Kabul with her family, Azada found a place that could help her rediscover her dignity and independence – Women for Women International. It’s an organisation that provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflict with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency. As they like to put it, “We’re changing the world one woman at a time”!

Azada enrolled in Women for Women International’s sponsorship program and learned to cut semi-precious stones for jewelry. Now she teaches other women the skills she acquired with Women for Women International. Her most prized possession is her certificate of employment. “I never thought that I would have the opportunity to support myself without a man,” Azada says. “Now… I am doing it!”

Global Handicrafts stocks some of the necklaces and earrings made by the women employed with Women for Women in Afghanistan. With lustrous fluorite, they showcase Afghanistan’s rich history of cutting natural precious stones into fine jewelry, while providing a solid source of income with which women like Azada can support themselves.

This Women’s Week, we applaud organisations like Women for Women for the outstanding work they do empowering those women who were once powerless!

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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“Meet my colleague. He has been to prison seven times”, says the director of the Kazakh rehab centre. He beams as he speaks, though, because his colleague, like others in the centre, has not touched alcohol or drugs for a long time now and is no longer in danger of another prison term for associated crime.

All of the men here are middle aged. All have spent decades battling the pull of addiction. But, in this shelter, they have been winning that fight and there seems an almost palpable sense of relief.

FABBAs 2

Each man plays a role in the modest lifestyle they share. They work the gardens until the snows come. They chop their own wood. They make one nourishing vat of soup each day and bake their own bread to serve with it. It’s minimal, but this shelter offers a safe place.

That safety, however, is at risk. A philanthropist who formerly funded much of their work, has now left the country and his attentions have moved elsewhere. If the centre has to close, the men will be out on the streets.

They have an idea, though, that may help them stay sustainable. They have three containers in their yard which have now been all but emptied of the beds, blankets, clothing, washing machines, computers, desks, chairs, tiles and other items we sent from Hong Kong.

The men have arranged the containers as the outer rim of an automobile repair workshop which will, hopefully, provide them with enough income to stay open. The nicest of the containers is a brightly painted one donated by FABBAs (Hong Kong Fund Managers’ Asian Brokers’ and Bankers’ Awards). It will face on to the street to receive customers, with a door cut in its side and a ‘shop’ area within. If all goes according to plan, FABBAs’ generosity will prove be a gift that keeps on giving.

We salute FABBAs for a decade of strategic partnership with Crossroads, one which has seen many thousands of lives touched around the world.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Donate to a shipment like this one.

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Kazakhstan Snapshop

Population: 17.9 million
Capital: Astana

Kazakhstan is the world’s largest landlocked country by land area and ninth largest country in the world. The climate is continental, with warm summers and colder winters.

The GDP per capita is US$12,950 or around $35 per day. In Hong Kong, the GDP per capita is US$33,534 or $91 per day.

kazkhstan

 

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The filthy waters swirled around their family home, as 10 year old Inamullah* stared in growing fear. They had now burst over the river bank and showed no signs of slowing down.

“Stay inside until the tide goes down”, his relatives had told him. But was the house safe? Already water was pouring into the ground floor and he ran to see if it was approaching the second. There was no doubt. Any moment now, they would need to move to the third floor and who knew how long even it would be safe?

The young boy needed wisdom beyond his own. While he could make a plan for himself and his older brother, a harder question was beyond his ability to solve. His mother, an old, diabetic woman, could not manage to climb those stairs in the face of the swirling waters. Inamullah sought help from his 12 year old brother who was not much bigger or stronger and, try as they might, proved too weak to carry their mother out.

For the two children, the risk of losing her was not only horrifying but hauntingly familiar. Only five years earlier, they had lost their father to the earthquake in Pakistan. Neither brother would forget the terrifying shudders of the earth that day, nor the sickening moment of realization that their dad would never come home again. Surely now they could not lose their mother as well?

Natural disasters are nondiscriminatory: they strike where they will and affect people regardless of social class or family life. In the end, the two could only gaze in abject horror as the relentless waters swept their mother away from their grasp and out of their lives. All that remained for them, in their shocked state, was to try to cheat death themselves.

Somewhere in the dark waters, Inamullah found a rubber tire and hung on to it with what little strength remained. It bobbed and ducked in the violent waters as he tried to avoid the floating debris they carried at terrifying speeds in their raging path. It was thirteen hours before rescue workers found him and took him to safety. There he was reunited with his brother and the two, now orphaned, later spoke of their battle.

“We can’t sleep at night” they said, in what we would probably call post trauma response. “We are still scared of the floods. And we are all alone now that our mother has gone. She was all we had.”

Inamullah’s mother was just one of the death toll following Pakistan’s devastating floods in 2010. The body count was close to 2,000, but that statistic hides the true human cost of the disaster. 20 million people in Pakistan were estimated to be affected. Even though most of these displaced people are now beginning to return home, each day after they returned held countless, perilous risks. There was a very serious lack of clean water, with many people forced to drink from dirty canals and other sources. There were reports of widespread cholera outbreaks, as well as dysentery and diarrhea. These illnesses can be fatal, especially for the 3.5 million children, many of whom were already malnourished due to a life of chronic poverty.

Schools were hit too. Children returned to find that, along with the rest of the buildings, their schools had been washed away. The UNHCR estimated that around 10,000 schools were destroyed by the flooding, as well as many that were rendered unusable because they were serving as temporary shelters for people who lost their homes.

After the disaster, Crossroads was immediately in consultation with people in Pakistan who were working with those affected. The kind of help they needed varied with each stage of the recovery process, but, for the load we initially sent, they asked us to gather hygiene kits, kitchen sets and school supplies. Many people in Hong Kong responded generously by donating funds and running collection drives to help the flood victims. The container was sent to Pakistan and the goods inside reached people rebuilding their lives in new homes and those living temporarily in camps and shelters.

*Name changed

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

Give Now!

Donate to a shipment like this one.

DONATE MONEY

Donate Goods!

Want to donate goods for a shipment like this one?

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