In April of 2016 the CDI Bishkek office started up our women’s community health education project. We were able to hire two trainers. One of our trainers is experienced, having come from our Jalalabad office, but our other trainer was hired brand new with no previous experience. She is a very sweet lady, but very quiet and reserved. We weren’t sure how she would do as a trainer. She admitted herself that she had never spoke in front of other people, or taught anything, and she wasn’t sure she’d be able to do it. But she shared that she’d been looking for a way to give back to her community. She’s very artistic and had sewn curtains for her church, but beyond that she never really felt like she had much to offer. She shared with tears in her eyes, that after 4 years of art training, her husband and family had mocked her for years for having a useless profession and said she would never find a job or be able to earn money for her family. When the opportunity to work for CDI came along, she decided to take it, though it was way outside her comfort zone. Also, because of a past head injury, she’d been told that she wasn’t smart enough retain information and teach anyone. However, she has proved them all wrong. Working for CDI she has discovered that she is a person of value, and that there is a place for her talents and she has worthwhile things to say and share with others. She has gone from being a very shy, reserved person to learning how to speak out her thoughts and opinions and how to teach others about healthy living, which she has learned is not just about physical health, but also about emotional, relational, and spiritual health.
In her own words, she shared these comments: “As I have shared with the women in the village, I am also learning. When I prepared the Love and Respect seminar, I asked myself the question, “Am I using in my own life what I am teaching to others?” When my husband came home from work I asked him, “What is more important to you, love or respect?” Statistics say that respect is most important for men. I was afraid he’d give the “wrong” answer, but my husband also answered that for him respect is most important! I was embarrassed because I had not shown him enough respect. Right then, I asked my husband to forgive me and I explained the reason why.”
She also has said, “I have worked for 3 months now in this project and I like this work. When I prepare the lessons I get lots of information. I use this information when I meet with my sisters and I tell them what I learned. Our lives are not changing fast, but we are trying to change. These lessons are not only for me, but all women like them. They receive all the information with joy and when we see this we are also filled with joy.”
Seeing our own trainers’ lives being changed through what they are teaching is a powerful example of how effective participatory community learning can be. We feel that the project is off to a great start and can’t wait to see what the future will bring.