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Kyrgyzstan: Inspirational response to a serious emergency

07 Oct 2010

Anarkan. 72, with her hygiene kit.I am in Kyrgyzstan at the moment, visiting our Regional Development Centre and seeing the work we carry out through our programmes.

In June this year, around one million people were affected by violence in Kyrgyzstan, in particular in Osh and Jalal-Abad provinces in the south west.

Older people particularly affected

Thousands were displaced, many were blockaded in their homes, while hundreds of thousands fled across the border into Uzbekistan.

Because a lot of the younger generation leave Kyrgyzstan to find work, a high number of those affected by this violence were older people.

Inspirational work

We responded as soon as we could to help the older people affected. Having now visited the programme we set up in Osh to do so, I can say how inspirational it truly is.

HelpAge staff called older people who were stuck in their homes and helped them to get in touch with their families by providing phone cards.

We provided emergency supplies and hygiene kits for older people and gave out cash grants and opportunities for work.

Pickling fruit and working with the UN

Our work varied from community building activities such as pickling fruit and vegetables and distributing them to older vulnerable families all the way to working with UN agencies to raise awareness of the issues older people face in emergencies. 

The outcomes of the programme have been fantastic. We have two new great local partners we can work with and, most importantly, we empowered older people to get involved in rebuilding their communities. 

Definitely a day where I can say that I'm proud to be HelpAge's CEO!

Read more about HelpAge's work in Kyrgyzstan and emergencies

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Author profile


Richard Blewitt
Country: U.K
Job title: Former HelpAge CEO

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.