Fifty years, fifty countries: Central Asian States

GenderSexual HealthAddiction50 Countries

To mark 50 years of Tearfund, we’re sharing about 50 countries where we’ve worked, celebrating God’s provision and power to transform, and praying for each of these nations. This week we’re in CAS (Central Asian States).

At a glance:

  • 70 per cent of the population in certain states live in extreme poverty
  • Half the economically active population are forced to find work abroad
  • 46,374 people have benefitted from Tearfund-sponsored programmes to reduce sexual and gender-based violence in the last five years
  • 55 community leaders recently participated in peacebuilding training run by a Tearfund partner

The Central Asian States are a group of countries stretching from the Caspian Sea in the west to the border of western China in the east. Tearfund began working in the area in the 1990s as a response to the challenges presented by the dissolution of the Soviet Union – the effects of which are still being felt today.

The 1990s saw a total economic restructuring in Central Asia, resulting in widespread unemployment, family breakdown and institutional collapse. Independent states lacking in natural resources have struggled to recover and build a viable economic model.

There is a sense of hopelessness amongst many as they have seen a decline in incomes, education levels and opportunities for work in other regions of the post-Soviet Union.

Coupled with the new pressures of drug and alcohol addictions, an under-resourced state and mass migration, Central Asia has been facing challenging times.

Promoting hope
Today, Tearfund is working through local partners to support both urban and rural communities in combating poverty and the most prominent social issues.

These issues include the rise of alcohol and drug abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, violence, crime, family breakdown, homelessness and the spread of HIV.

Our partners are working to address these needs, through championing families, providing vocational training, offering rehabilitation services and promoting peacebuilding projects. One person whose life was completely turned around by this is 18-year-old Alana*.

Free to dream
‘I do not have a father, and my mother is an alcoholic,’ Alana tells us. ‘Until I was 15 years old, I lived in an orphanage.’ Girls like her in the Central Asian States are often cast off by society, but Alana never gave up hope. ‘I always believed that I would achieve something,’ she says. When she met staff from a local Tearfund partner, her hope paid off.

‘Thanks to the [Tearfund partner] staff, I had a chance to continue my education and graduate from. Now I live in a social house run by them.’

With the support she received, Alana was able to attend a journalism course. ‘My dream is to become a professional journalist who will cover the problems of other orphans,’ she says. ‘Now I am preparing to study journalism at university.’

Moving mountains
Alana now volunteers for Tearfund’s partner, and also has a part-time job as a waitress in a cafe. ‘Now I'm the one in charge in our social house, she says. ‘I'm responsible for the newly arrived girls – I help them to get settled.

‘Thanks to the opportunity given to me, I achieved a lot. I became more confident. After all, when people believe in you, you can move mountains!’

‘I want to say "Thank you! You give HOPE!” After all, we deserve at least hope! I am very grateful to all who’ve given so much to help me to improve my life! Thank you so much.’

If you'd like to know more please visit the Central Asian States country page.

PLEASE PRAY:

  • Give thanks for our dedicated staff and partners in Central Asia, who work tirelessly in challenging conditions.
  • Pray that broken families and relationships would be restored across Central Asia.
  • Pray that, through our livelihoods work, many people would be equipped with skills to pull themselves out of poverty and become better able to provide for their families.
  • Lift up those caught in the cycle of alcohol and drug abuse; pray that these addictions would be broken, and that emotional wounds would be healed in Jesus’ name.

* Name changed to protect identity