The most important people that need our care and love most of all are children. They are incapable of protecting themselves and fighting for their rights. That kind of conclusion I made yesterday after UNICEF representative’s ( Hanaa) speech.  Though she didn’t use any attention getting devices to compel our attention, everybody was listening to her, because the situation of children rights meant a lot to us. Actually, her theme was the best attention getting device. I used to think that situation with children rights in our country has no global problems. However, yesterday meeting and Hanaa’s presentation on children rights in Kazakhstan made me change my mind and find out more about human rights violation in our country.

I was shocked by the statistics she presented. The facts about child mortality and maternal mortality decreased since 2008-2010, but these facts leave much to be desired. I noticed that among the child mortality rate the first places take Asian countries and Kazakhstan is on the seventh place. It is rather disappointing information. What does it mean? Even though we signed Children Rights Declaration, the situation still remains problematic and actual one or is it getting better year by year.  I hope that these statistics are “reduced” and decreased numbers of the whole problem we had just only becoming independent.  Nevertheless, there are still a lot of problems to solve in a sphere of health and medicine. If we draw attention to the statistics on anemia proportion of women of reproductive age, we can clearly see that nearly 50% of women in our country have impoverished blood. That is bad, because it means that the half of all women, who are capable to give a birth to a child have weak health. Another distressing fact is suicide rate among 15-19 year old adolescents:  again Kazakhstan is “in a leading position.”

When I read the following NGO Partners report to UNICEF, I remembered “Two Kyrgyz women” by M. Franulovic:

Mariya was 14 when her mother and father died and she was placed at the orphanage in one of the main cities of Kazakhstan. Her parents were alcoholics so Mariya was often left without care. At the orphanage where she put after death of her parents she was often beaten by peers. When she was 15 she met a young man who promised to take her to Astana. She escaped from the orphanage to go to an attractive capitol with a new friend. In Astana she found out she was sold for 20,000 tenge (150 USD) to provide sexual services. When she refused her “owner” raped her and was beating her until she agreed. She was forced to have sex with up to ten customers a day, even when she was pregnant. When she delivered her baby was taken away and she never saw it. She is not even sure it was a boy or a girl. Thanks to one customer who helped her to escape she is now provided with support at a centre for victims of trafficking run but NGO. Mariya is happy she managed to run away but she said that many other young girls she knows were not so lucky…

This case have much in common with those Kyrgyz women’s ones. All of them underwent the hardship of being rescued once they get involved into the business of human trafficking. The thing that shocked me most off all is about the victims of trafficking in Astana, in the city, where we live. We used to think that such awful problems happen somewhere far away, far away from us, but it is not so. Who knows, perhaps, we meet those victims everyday in the streets of our capital city.

We say that world is getting better, but we do not always know what the real meaning of it is. Yes, I do not deny, the conditions for life is getting better, the amenities to live with comfort is improving. But! The most important creatures of the world – people – are dehumanizing themselves. That’s a big problem. It is the problem that causes a lot of them. The things that we create with hardships, we destroy at a glance.

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Poverty, Sadness, rears on faces, fear, a hard job, an endless queue for food and water… and African countries. That is what we have seen in a short video clip with lullaby background music presented by UNICEF. Studying PDP we have many quest speakers to visit our classes. As usual, UNICEF representative in Kazakhstan Hanaa Singer came to our university yesterday. We waited for her for a long time and were glad to listen to her. Hanaa has a long background of working with human rights. She worked in many countries such as Tanzania, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Burundi, etc. And now she is in Kazakhstan. She gave a presentation on children rights all over the world and in our country. It was the first time I understood the way UNICEF work and collaborates with the countries. It works to improve the lives of neglected and that’s why the more countries are involved the better.
I learned a lot of new things, for instance, MDG – the Millennium Development Goals. When we asked yesterday what it was, I didn’t understand what they were for, what those goals really meant for UNICEF. Later when I googled it in the internet I got it. MDGs are the goals to solve the problems we saw in a short video clip, the goals that are agreed to achieve by 2015.
The best thing that I liked about Hanaa’s presentation was reliability of the information. I know, UNICEF is a strong organization and it keeps all data related to their investigation. It was great to hear those statistics, though terrible, from a person like Hanaa. Even though we read a lot about human rights violation in the internet, mostly, we cannot be sure about statistics. What is worse – we begin arguing if we find different information on the same problem.
Hanaa’s speech is really one of the examples of giving good presentation, and now looking back I realize the difficulty of speaking to the public, the difficulty of standing in front of the audience. Concerning my own presentation in future, I will try to do much helpful as possible to me so that I won’t get lost in my thoughts having a lot of eyes looking at me.
It was a pity that we had a little time to ask more questions. However, the problem that we discussed yesterday is a very global one and its discussion could last for many many hours.

Cover of "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a B...

Cover via Amazon

Have you ever read a book about children in war. If not, you should read “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah. It is a truthful story of Civil War that took place in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2002. The book is a testimony of the way a child soldier had gone and hardships he had overcome in the war. Ishmael Beah is the author and the pivotal character of the book. The book story is his real life. Being 12 years old he was involved into the war, and faced with death many times during the fighting. When the war began, Ishmael lost his parents, later his brother with whom he hoped to find his family. Escaping from the rebels, he got involved into the army of the country. Ishmael described every minute he had spent in a fear to be caught and killed. When he was actively in the war, he was prepared to take weapons and to kill. He lost his family, brother, and his friends in the way of endless fights. Each time he lost somebody, he became more and more cruel. He forgot what childhood really meant to him.

However, the end of the book is not dramatic. In the end, Ishmael returns to the previous civil life. He spent much time to be rehabilitated and to forget about revenge and desire to kill. Desire to kill was one of the things the corporals taught them to be necessary to survive in the war. During the period of rehabilitation Ishmael found difficulties to forget all the cruelty and inhuman qualities the was taught him. He didn’t trust anyone. He had nobody to share his feelings.

Nowadays, he went through all those barriers successfully. A lot of people know about a child soldier that made a brave step to change his life and begin absolutely new one. That is what Ishmael writes himself about it ” There was no element of choice when it came to being in the army, but regaining a person I was before that required a lot of work. I had lost the ability to exhibit human emotions; I had forgotten how to sleep; I had to learn the routine of everyday life again.” A small child became a good writer, who shared his life story with the people of all over the world. With the help of many people he had written “A Long Way Gone”, and later he gave different speeches about the human rights violation and children in war. Then “he became involved into a documentary film called Bling’d, taking a group of hip-hop artists to Sierra Leone to witness at first hand how the trade in illegal diamonds had impacted on the country. A teaser for the film on YouTube, to the sound of Shirley Bassey singing “Diamonds are forever”, shows children missing limbs, men and women being shot, children brandishing AK-47s, bought with the proceeds of the illegal diamond trade.” ( A Long Way Gone, I. Beah)

Watch the video on Conflict Diamonds.

It is a pity that such inhuman actions appear in our centuries. Human rights issue is still one of the topical problems of human society. It is not just a theme to talk about, it is the matter that needs support from everyone. On my part, I am grateful to my friend, who advised me this book for I have never known before about the Civil War in Sierra Leone. On my due, I advise you to read the book and get more and more people to know about it. Washington Post once said “Everyone in the world should read this book”.