Why (Issyk-Kul) Kyrgyzstan?
Kyrgyzstan’s location is a key indication of its nature and spirit: a blend of East meets West, with an indigenous past. Although hints of Islamic and Soviet culture have both left their trace, it is Kyrgyzstan’s expansive mountains, valleys, grasslands, and lakes that have decidedly shaped its identity. I am running the Silk Road Marathon in Kyrgyzstan to support Helveta’s efforts in combatting ethnic tensions in the country that has prevented peaceful social integration along the border with Uzbekistan.
The YOU “Youth United for Future” Project is an effort by Helvetas to empower youth in Kyrgyzstan against the social unrest and inequality they face in their country. Confronted by religious violence, language bias, unfair access to resources and interethnic conflict, young adults in South Kyrgyzstan are forced to make many difficult decisions about their identities. The goal of the YOU Project (“Youth United for Future”) is to offer this promising group a fair voice, contributing to a more cohesive society that is “resilient against extremist rhetoric by contributing to bridging the gap between younger and older generations.” Beyond this, the organization offers business development training, small grants for dialogue activities and small business initiatives, and platforms for inclusive discussion to its 1,350 direct and 8,600 indirect beneficiaries. Helvetas has combined peace education with governance approaches in a way that supports “young people in finding their personal and professional purpose in life.”
Join me on my journey to support Helvetas in Kyrgyzstan.