For the 150,000 people with hearing disabilities in Kazkhstan, it can, indeed, be a silent, lonely existence.  Services for the deaf and understanding of support are still a challenge in many areas, particularly those living in poverty. Some grow up never learning any formal sign language because their families are unable to access support. Our Christmas cards in 2016 were made by deaf and hearing impaired young adults. They carefully crafted the cards’ hand-made components, drawing on cultural elements traditional to the region and even the humour with which, despite life’s difficulties, they wonderfully embed in their craft.

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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.

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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

 

“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.

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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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