As you know, people all over the world celebrated International Children Day yesterday. We did the same. Kazakhstan with the support of UNICEF organized Children film festival in Astana. The festival aimed to draw people’s attention to the children all over the world and different situations they are in. Children film festival in Astana takes place in Saryarka Shopping and Entertainment Center. It will last for five days and started on the first of June. The first day of the film festival started with the film “All the invisible children”, that consisted of several short films such as:

  • Tanza, by Mehdi Charef (Burkina Faso) tells the story of a child soldier in Africa who dreams of living a normal life and attending school.
  • Blue Gypsy, by Emir Kusturica (Serbia & Montenegro) pictures a gypsy boy in his last day in a juvenile prison in Serbia-Montenegro without any other perspective but returning to prison.
  • Jesus Children of America, by Spike Lee (USA) shows a HIV positive Brooklyn teenager called Blanca, daughter of junkies’ parents with Aids and the cruelty of her schoolmates in school.
  • João and Bilú, by Kátia Lund (Brazil) tells the story of two children who fight to survive working on the streets.
  • Ciro, by Stefano Veneruso (Italy) tells the story of a young boy in Naples who pickpockets to spend money on entertainment.
  • Song Song and Little Cat, by John Woo (China) shows a tale of fantasy, with a homeless orphan and a spoiled wealthy girl.

(For further information follow the link Film Festival in Astana)
Each of those films showed children and their situations from different perspectives. However, combined all of them managed to make people understand that children need our attention and care every time and everywhere. Perhaps, people felt it for majority, who came to watch the film, didn’t want to leave the cinema even when there were no places and they didn’t. I guess, they enjoyed the first day of the children film festival despite discomfort they were forced to deal. (The film festival is free of charge and people were ready to watch it even sitting on the stairs.)

Personally, I was glad to see so many viewers in the hall for it means that there are people, who are not indifferent to the children destiny. Of course, I want to believe that those people didn’t come just to watch a film for free and spend their usual evening with “something not boring”.

The films were so real that I felt compassion to those children. Their life and their destiny was so cruel and it became even worse when the life faced them with the loss of a closer person, fatal disease, coerced act of carrying weapons and shooting, and eking out a living by gathering cans and metals all day long. Doing all these things children are deprived from the childhood. They cannot play outside, they cannot go to school, they cannot feel themselves safe . . .

Sometimes, looking at children playing, I miss my childhood. However, I feel pity for them at the same time.In our childhood our friends were not online, they were outdoors, in the yard. We didn’t call our friends to play by mobile phones, we shouted under their windows calling them for game. We didn’t play computer games all day long, but such games as hide-and-seek and etc. Comparatively, our childhood was real. Still adults can make childhood of their children bright, enjoyable and memorable.

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.

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.