Monday, 12 October 2009

GX Week 20

Monday 3rd August

Rain ruined any chance for the walk into the mountains we had planned to replace the horse riding so we visited the museum before heading back to Shymkent in the same subdued mood of the day before. Back at Nassima’s Gulnara received a phone call from her mother before calling Malika and then announcing that she was going to Almaty with her mother for a few days due to some problem with her brother that she wouldn’t tell me about. Obviously I would never have objected to her going but I was rather annoyed. It feels like there was one rule in the UK and another here. No one even bothered to ask if I would be okay staying in the host home alone. Instead I was ordered to a meeting in Mega with Dinara, Grace and Sarah. I said my piece which was along the lines of that I felt most of the team agreed with Dinara, it’s not like any one exactly jumped to our defence, that now I feel uncomfortable spending time with my best friends on the programme and that I thought as a team everyone probably talked about each other. I concluded by saying that I just wanted to put the whole thing behind us and resolved to be more careful about what I say about people along with making more of an effort to be nice to those on the team that I spend less time with. If I make an effort and things still don’t change at least I will be able to go home knowing that it wasn’t me.

Random combination of black silk sheets and dolphin duvet cover at our MPR venue

Tuesday 4th August

Our supervisor was away today and had failed to leave the key for her office which had our materials locked inside so Nina and I had to improvise. We managed to entertain the few children we had today, apparently there aren’t that many children in the hospital currently, with balloons and a blanket. It’s Gulnara’s birthday tomorrow so I text her to ask if she was okay and whether she would be back for birthday but she hasn’t replied yet.

Wednesday 5th August

The office was still locked so Nina and I utilised a blanket and made a house and a rather more popular car using the child sized tables and chairs from the room we play in. Passing doctors did look rather bemused to see us sitting atop a table covered with a blanket throwing ourselves wildly from side to side, as is the driving experience in Kazakhstan. After work I met Ali for my supervision. As usual he praised me for my honesty though I was perhaps feeling more honest than usual post MPR. I shared my main worry about my placement. That no one will carry on our work after we leave and he provided some ideas beyond ours, of providing a list of play ideas and doing some training with parents and staff. I may be being overly negative or lazy but I don’t think we will do it. I just can’t see any staff or parents coming to any training. All the staff have jobs to do and the various parents aren’t there permanently. They have seen us play with the children. It’s not difficult. We mostly make it up as we go along. We will leave behind all the materials we have left and a list of ideas but ultimately they will have to organise themselves. After my supervision I met the rest of the team minus Gulnara, who text to say that she will probably be back on Friday, to practice a sketch we are going to perform as a CAD for the opening of a new building for Beth and Olga’s placement a young persons healthy lifestyles clinic.

Thursday 6th August

Our supervisor returned today with the key to her office so we played with plasticine. After lunch I was cornered by Rosa the cleaner who always surprises me as the person who seemingly knows the most English among the doctors, nurses and administrators in the hospital, though she only knows a few words. Started pointing at my necklace asking how much it was and then pointing at my fingers before disappearing and returning moments later with a small number of horrible plastic rings in her pocket which she offered to sell to me for 150 tenge each. I felt kind of obliged and so bought the least hideous of the lot.

Friday 7th August

Kate and Dina’s GCD on disability. This time there were two definitions; one for each country. In the UK the definition of a disabled person ‘is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day to day activities.’ In Kazakhstan the definition of a disabled person ‘is someone whose way of life is restricted thanks to physical or mental impairments and therefore requires social help and protection.’ Next we brainstormed types of disability, managing to differentiate between mental and physical, acquired and hereditary and permanent and temporary disabilities after which we pretty much just names every disability that we could think of. Kate then showed us a presentation she had made about types of disability, physical impairment, sensory impairment, cognitive impairment (learning disability), intellectual impairment (mental illness) and chronic disease. Then we discussed the laws, protections, and organisations in place to help disabled people at the local, national and international level in both the UK and Kazakhstan. Our group were looking at the international level. We were so woefully ignorant that I won’t out any of our ideas here as they are probably incorrect. We did agree however that discrimination against disabled people is a violation of their human rights. Both the UK and Kazakhstan have laws in place relating to disabled people however in Kazakhstan they are not always followed or enforced. Few places cater for the disabled, only hospitals, though not ours, and new centres. The Mega centre for example has ramps, lifts and disabled toilets. Moreover the facilities in place are not always suitable; Kate described an incident at her placement, a rehabilitation centre for the disabled, where it took two men to get a wheelchair user up a steep ramp into the centre. There are also shortages of wheelchairs and other medical equipment. In the UK concessions have been made on some modifications, for example the London Underground. After lunch Kate and Dina presented a timeline of rights for the disabled.

1951 – UN holds talks on the social rehabilitation of disabled people

1953 – UN introduces program for the development of services for disabled people

1981 – International year of disabled people

1995 – Disability Discrimination Act passed in the UK

1999 – Kazakhstan introduces benefits for disabled people

2002 – Kazakhstan develops targets for the provision of services for disabled people

2005 – UK definition of disability refined and Disability Discrimination Act extended to give disabled people further rights

2006 – Disability Equality Duty introduced in the UK. All public sector must promote equality of opportunity

2007 – 82 countries sign the UN convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

2008 – Kazakhstan ratifies the convention

2009 – UK ratifies the convention

Then we had a quiz!

Q: What percentage of the worlds population live with a disability?

A: 10% (650 million)

Q: Who has a higher rate of disability?

A: Females

Q: What percentage of all disabled people live in developing countries?

A: 80%

Q: What percentage of the worlds poorest people have some kind of disability?

A: 20%

Q: What percentage of the population of Kazakhstan are estimated to have a disability according to government statistics?

A: 3%

Q: In 2003/4 what percentage of people in the UK had a disability as covered by the Disability Discrimination Act?

A: 18% (10 million people)

Next we watched a film called talk from the Disability Rights Commission. A very thought provoking video, you can view it here.

Finally we watched a video about a centre for disabled children in Almaty. Olga was in the video as she worked there as a translator for a time. There are 160 000 children registered as disabled in Kazakhstan. The governments aim is to diagnose their disability and provide the appropriate benefits. The centre however aims to provide more complex help by providing support for families and building relationships. One problem faced by the families of disabled children is lack of information about rights and benefits. The family room at the centre provides a good place for families to meet informally and share information. Some parents from the centre established a day care group to provide care for the children while other parents work. The centre also runs projects to educate children of normal mental ability in standard schools rather than in special schools.

The GCD was followed by a leaving party for Vicente, peace corp. volunteer and volunteer placement supervisor to Anne-Marie and Misha. He made the mistake of telling the peace corp. he had no work and so they decided to send him home early. I had only met him once, during our community orientation, but it seemed like a good opportunity to meet some more volunteers. After drinks and food at Caravan in Ken Baba we proceeded to a ‘dive bar’, perhaps the only one in Shymkent, losing many of the group along the way. There Joe and Vicente downed pints and smoked the girls’ slim cigarettes; a very amusing sight. From here we walked to a karaoke bar come nightclub near Ordabassy where I declined Dinara’s earlier offer to stay at her host home opting for Sarah’s instead as both Beth and Dinara were looking tired and wanting to go home where as I wanted to stay longer. After a vodka shot and much dancing in the stifling nightclub on my part I left with Sarah around midnight. A very nice Kazakh named Alex who apparently Vicente barely knew got us a taxi, taking down the licence plate, then Sarah gestured wildly while I tore through the phrasebook looking for the words for left and right. Miraculously we got back to Sarah’s very easily.

Gulnara receiving her birthday present and card at the GCD

Saturday 8th August

Dinara, Beth, Anne-Marie, Nina, Sarah, Grace, Ben and I met today at the aqua park along with a number of peace corp. volunteers, whose of whom live in villages without running water savouring the feeling of being clean. Britney had invited us along on Thursday but we had originally planned to have a CAD for the opening of a new building at Beth and Olga’s placement. I was extremely grateful that it was cancelled. It was a good day, like a mini holiday. I got to swim and work on my tan.

Beth and Nina having fun at the aqua park

Sunday 9th August

Another CAD with Beth and Olga’s placement. Not the one that we had planned for Saturday. It was another summer camp. Though apart from an over weight middle aged woman shouting incomprehensively at us because the English club was taking place in the wrong place (every camp seems to have an angry overweight middle aged woman) it was altogether better organised. We arrived, set up the stage, watched the introduction, sat around for a little while, were suddenly ordered to play games with a group, where we had to roll out all the energisers we could remember again, then did our anti-smoking bit. This time I was on the ‘facts’ station where on child had to put a spoon in their mouth and read aloud two ‘facts’ (something like ‘we are for a healthy lifestyle’ and ‘smoking damages the body’) while their peers have to guess what they are saying. It was amusing to watch and quickly over. We then had lunch and went home where I spent the rest of the day sleeping and catching up with my diary writing. I had been putting off cataloguing the MPR!

Child trying to read with a spoon in their mouth

Kassym made a new friend at the camp

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