28 August 2020
A story about youth role in the COVID-19 response in Kyrgyzstan.
Nurila Duysheyeva, 23, works at the AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW) in Kyrgyzstan. After obtaining a Master’s degree in State Policy and Management from the Academy of Public Administration, Nurila completed an internship in the implementation of youth policy in the State Agency for Youth and Sports under the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Kyrgyz Republic, through which she gained considerable experience to lead her way to youth empowerment.
The pandemic brought significant disruptions into young people’s lives in Kyrgyzstan, from university closures to rising unemployment. Despite the fear of uncertainty, youth-led initiatives to fight the pandemic have taken many forms in Kyrgyzstan, from volunteer movements to the establishment of “Help Headquarters”, which invites volunteers to create a prime drug search tool online, and deliver food to disadvantaged group offline.
While the majority of initiatives are aimed at restoring the economy, Nurila is trying to help in other ways:
“We are looking for opportunities to the maximum, we support the provision of free online consultations by qualified psychologists, not only for young people, but also for those who are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. Additionally, we are planning a project that can provide significant support to those who have returned to reintegration.”
To make sure that the youth is heard during the pandemic, Nurila and her colleagues organized several webinars to promote youth self-development and empowerment. In addition to online meeting sessions, she teamed up with young entrepreneurs to launch live broadcasts that share how COVID-19 affects them, along with tips for dealing with difficulties during the time of crisis. As the Head of the Youth Centre, Nurila and her team have carried out several projects to improve social services for underprivileged youth and launched the Dance4Life youth project to promote a healthy lifestyle among young people.
In addition to pooling and leveraging existing services to ensure full support for young people, Nurila also works closely with the UNESCO Almaty Office:
“UNESCO is the most wonderful platform, their openness and willingness to teach young people useful skills demonstrates their focus on youth development. During the last two webinars alone, the participants received a baggage of useful skills, tools for work, and detailed information about youth programs. Almost all participants immediately registered for the CAYNET platform and began to develop their potential. And I hope that in the future our partnership will continue and we will be able to implement more projects for youth empowerment.”
Considering that nearly half of Kyrgyzstan’s population is under the age of 25 , it is crucial to engage youth as equal partners in the country’s recovery process for an effective response. Nurila believes that:
“The world will no longer be the same, people’s mindsets and attitudes will change unambiguously. Young people will play a big role, as they are now distinguished by their activity, awareness and making great efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
UNESCO Almaty is committed to providing open resources and promoting opportunities for youth in Central Asia during and after the crisis. As a response to COVID-19, UNESCO Almaty is planning to launch the Central Asian Youth Network (CAYNET) in early September, a free platform where young adults can take online courses, develop projects, learn languages, and exchange ideas. All young adults in Central Asia aged 14-29 are welcome to join the platform.