Saturday, 12 September 2009

GX Week 18

Monday 20th July

Music and games with the children today. After three burst balloons I spent the next hour constantly picking children up and having them literally walk all over me. There are two disabled children at the hospital. I’m sure what their disabilities are but both have reduced speech and coordination. Life really has dealt them and their parents a double blow. It is difficult to work with them alongside the other kids but they are remarkably good at including them. After work Nina and I met with Anne-Marie to discuss our plans for a four day CAD/art therapy session with the children in August working with Britney from the peace corp. Though seems that none of us actually know anything about art therapy it will be a glorified version of what Nina and I do every day except paid for by the peace corp.

Tuesday 21st July

Awoke this morning to the sound of gun shots. At first I thought it was a car back firing but it kept happening and then we heard a dog cry out and realised what was happening. They were culling the strays. Gulnara asked what happened to stray dogs in the UK and I explained that mostly they are only put down if they are sick. That we don’t have so many strays and mostly they find new homes. It occurred to me that we treat our homeless animals better than homeless people. I guess it comes right back to that discussion we had about responsibility during Ali and Malika’s GCD on HIV & AIDS. It can’t be an animal’s fault that it is homeless. At work we painted with the children then met with some of the mothers over chi and biscuits to discuss what sessions we could run with them, although they seemed more interested in questioning us about England. I found a map in my diary which should prove very useful as no one has ever heard of Norwich, Norfolk, Essex, even the East of England. I keep having to tell people that I live near London. I suppose in a country where the capital can be several days train journey away a couple of hours is near. After work we met with Anne-Marie to compile the mammoth list of materials we need for our ‘art therapy’. All out brains have been frazzled by the heat (each day just seems to be hotter than the last) and it took us two and a half hours!

Wednesday 22nd July

At work today we had the first child who really looked sick. He was really pale and balding, with his hands and face were covered in small scars and fresh legions layered with this green substance they appear to apply to the smallest of injuries. I was shocked to see what I guess I had been expected at the start but hadn’t seen. We made pasta jewellery. It turned into the usual supervised chaos. The parents often annoy me more than anything. They are no better about sharing, grabbing things and making a mess than the children. After work we watched the new Harry Potter film at the cinema, or rather ‘Garry Potter’ as he is known in Russian due to the absence of a ‘H’ sound in the alphabet. I was glad that I had read the book as I got very little of the dialogue but I enjoyed the general story, special effects, and pointing out deviations from the book.

Thursday 23rd July

Didn’t meet Nina until 10:45 for work today as she ad to pick up a cartoon form Aigera for the children. Cinderella did not manage to hold their attention for the whole time, didn’t help that it was dubbed over by just one very boring Russian voice, but they did seem to enjoy doing something different. After work I went looking for shoes but didn’t buy anything. I got put off by the pushy shop assistants and the disapproving looks they were giving my bazaar bought sandals. I’m going to treat myself to a few cheap pairs before I head home though. I think I can pull a few nice coloured pairs out of the rhinestoned masses. I ran into Grace and Kate in the Mega centre and we went for a coffee before I headed for the internet café. Still haven’t heard from teach first. I am going to ring them tomorrow to check that they have received my application. Back at home I brought up the subject of our GCD evaluation with Gulnara. After she roughly and begrudgingly translated a coupe of comments for me we wrote our evaluations separately.

Friday 24th July

Maybe the beer I shared with Grace in Mega has addled my brain but I think I am really starting to enjoy myself here. I made a decision on the bus home today to try and make the most of everyday here as I know I will regret it when I get home if I don’t. Mind you today was a good day. I rang teach first and learnt that I had passed the application stage and won’t have to have a telephone interview due to being abroad as they have places at an assessment centre in September.

It was Sarah and Olga’s turn to lead the GCD today on Human Trafficking. Of course we started with a definition: the use of force, fraud or coercion to exploit a person for profit. A victim can be subjected to labour exploitation, sexual exploitation or both. In the next task the group brainstormed the causes of human trafficking; poverty, politics, unemployment, corruption, government irresponsibility, persecution, poor border controls, war, poor education/awareness, problems with international law enforcement, criminal gangs, demand, drugs, lack of rights, profitability, lack of labour force, family conflicts and hope of a better life. Sarah and Olga followed this up with their own information; lack of employment opportunities, organised crime, regional imbalances, economic disparities, social discrimination, corruption in government, political instability, armed conflict, mass resettlement projects, profitability, insufficient penalties, minimal law enforcement of global sex tourism, legal processes that prosecute victims rather than the traffickers, poor international border defence and culture


According to a UN report 1 in 5 victims of human trafficking is a child

The UN records 12 million people living in slavery. The actual number is estimated to be 200 million

Europol calculates that human trafficking makes $12 billion a year. The UN calculates it at $9 billion.

800, 000 people a year are forced into labour abroad each year (many more remain in their own countries. 50% of these are children.

80% of forced labourers are women. Half of these are und
er 18.

79% of all human trafficking involves sexual expolitation of women and children.

The UN convention on human trafficking was ratified on 21st March 1950 and came into force on 25th July 1951.

Each year the U.S. Department of State complies the Trafficking in Pe
rsons Report. This report rates foreign governments’ efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking using a tier system. Countries in tier 1 governments fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards. Whose in tier 2 do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards. Countries in the tier 2 watch list do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards AND:
a) The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is
very significant or is significantly increasing; or
b) There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or
c) The determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year. Whose in tier 3 do not fully com
ply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so. Our group guessed the tiers that the following countries would be in and were then given their true tier by Sarah and Olga. I’m afraid that I did not record our guesses except in the case of the UK which we guessed would be tier 2 but was in fact tier 1.

Australia - Tier 1
Kazakhstan -
Tier 2
Pakistan - Tier 2
Russia -
Tier 2 watch
Iran -
Tier 3
South Africa - Tier 2 watch
Germany -
Tier 1
Georgia -
Tier 1
Ireland -
Tier 2
Spain -
Tier 1
Afghanistan - Tier 2
Hong Kong - Tier 1
Switzerland -
Tier 1
Saudi Arabia -
Tier 3
Turkey -
Tier 2
Bangladesh -
Tier 2
India -
Tier 2 watch

For the full listing look here

Many of our team claimed to be able to identify an American bias (e.g. G
eorgia) that is a common theme in our GCDs when examining American reports.

Next we looked at three case studies beginning with that of Lila, a Romanian girl trafficking by an acquaintance to the UK for prostitution with promises of work as a domestic servant and sales person after suffering abuse at home. She was beaten and re-trafficked several times before eventually being freed in a raid and repatriated to Romania. She fled from the shelter where she was staying and her whereabouts are unknown which raised questions for me about the quality of repatriation trafficked people receive. The second case study was that of an Indian boy sold in slavery and then forced to work in adulthood to pay off inflated debts. He was freed by a joint government and NGO project going on to open his own business paying fair wages. The final case study examined the case of two Indonesian women held as domestic slaves by the family in New York. The women eventually sought help and the family were tried and convicted in court.

After this task Joe, a peace corp. volunteer working at Sana Sezim (a human rights organisation), came to speak with us. He told us that Kazakhstan is a source, destination and transit country for human trafficking. As a source country victims are usually trafficked for sex and forced labour. This often occurs through “travelling” or “modelling” agencies which promise easy employment abroad. NGOs run hotlines allowing people to check the legitimacy of these agencies and if they are asking for the correct documents etc. Victims are generally trafficked to countries such as Greece, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Turkey and Germany. As a destination country victims generally arrive from the bordering states of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. They are often enslaved in the construction and agricultural industries, attracted to Kazakhstan by the better economy and lack of need for a visa to travel, but not to work, in former soviet republics, they will work illegally, giving their documents to their employer. Despite economic improvements in Kazakhstan human trafficking has not decreased so the government has been forced to take some action, mostly in the form of informational campaigns. The number one problem is enforcement. In 2007 there were 19 people convicted of trafficking in Kazakhstan. Though even this shows improvement, in 2006 there was just one case. NGOs work educating the law enforcement services, for example, of the law which states that a trafficked person can not be convicted of a crime directly related to the trafficking. Additionally they provide legal and psychological counsel to trafficked persons and work with orphans, who are often victims of trafficking. After Joe departed we took a look at some of the organisations working to tackle human trafficking. The UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) established in Kazakhstan in 1993 mostly provides consultation, trainings and information. The OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) trains law enforcement agencies and promotes anti-trafficking policies such as the 2003 anti-trafficking mechanism. The Council of Europe formed the Convention Against Trafficking of Human Beings of which 21 of 47 nations have signed and passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in 2000 which allowed greater maximum sentences for traffickers and made it easier for different organisations to work together. A number of International NGOs also work to combat human trafficking, including, Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International and Human Rights Watch. Finally we watched ‘”Not My Life”: Slavery in Our Time’, the accompanying video to the Trafficking in Persons Report which contains shocking examples of human trafficking from across the globe including the USA.

After the GCD we went to Sarah and Dinara’s placement for ‘film club’. I stopped at a shop on the way to feed my Coca Cola addiction. I can take or leave it in the UK but here I crave caffeinated fizzy drinks. Coke when I can get it, Pepsi when I can’t, which is rare. I tell myself that it is for it’s rehydration and stomach settling properties but perhaps it is just a western comfort. I wonder if there is a country in the world where you can’t buy Coca Cola. After watching ‘The Dead Poets Society’ Grace and I went for a beer in Mega arranging to go to the bazaar tomorrow to fill our time.

Saturday 25th July

After a morning spent not doing very much at all (I was hoping to get some hand washing done but Nassima has yet to buy any more washing powder). I met Dina, Grace, Sarah, Kate, Beth and Ben at Mega at 3 for our trip to Bekjan Bazaar. I bought a pair of synthetic black gladiator style sandals for 1500 tenge, roughly £6 (I could have done a lot better for my money but it was burning a hole in my pocket), a skirt that could also be a strapless dress for 1000 T = £4, a fake amber necklace 300 T = £1.20, and a bracelet for 50 T = 20p. I also picked up some gifts for those back home. Grace bartered on everything she bought, but I can’t do it. It’s only ever a couple of hundred tenge, a pound or two. Though here that does mean an hour or so in the internet café or 2 and a bit Coca Colas… Maybe I should give it a go.

Inside Bekjan Bazaar

Sunday 26th July

ANOTHER CAD! Our sixth! This time we were running an anti-smoking “marathon” at a summer camp. The bus left Shymkent at 8:30am but we weren’t required until the afternoon so spent all morning in the camp sitting around providing a curious amusement and English practice for the children while not being told what was going on, with occasional expeditions for ice cream. This lack of information and organisation is an continual source of annoyance for the UK volunteers, possibly the Kazakhs too, maybe they are just used to it, or maybe we have a few communication problems in the team. Lunchtime was particularly fraught. First we were told it was self service then up at the counter we were told to sit down then Gulnara came and told us to go up then we were shouted at to sit down again! This event seemed to trigger everyone on my table at least to start complaining about everything Kazakh. The moaning really gets to me especially when it starts to rub off on me and I start doing it myself because I know I will kick myself when I get home if I don’t make the most of my time here. We are here to experience a different culture and that is what we are doing even if there maybe things about it that we don’t like. At 6pm we finally started out marathon (it was originally planned for 4:30pm) which involved groups of children running from one station to another and completing tasks, such as posters, role-plays and aerobics. I was on the anti-smoking crossword station with Aigera. The teams were then presented and there were some displays of dancing, one of which had some of the camp staff doing a pretty impressive break dancing routine set, in part, to classical music. Then we went home with the overexcited Y-PEER volunteers acting like they had never been on a bus before, waving to drivers from the windows and generally being very noisy. I was trying to sleep.

Stage at the summer camp. Prizes are being handed out to the teams.

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