Photo By: Allan Castaneda is licensed under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license.
A Labor of Love
Ainura Osmonakunova, a 32-year-old mother of two from the Kyrgyz Republic, confronts challenges daily. She was born with a physical disability that forced her to leave school in fifth grade. Unable to find work, she was left to raise her children on a minimal monthly disability allowance.
Ainura was forced to send her 11-year-old son away to a government facility where he would get meals and an education for free. “Things were so hard,” she says. “We struggled to survive.”
Ainura’s fortunes began to change when she heard about the free training offered to disadvantaged youths and adults under a skills development project financed in part by a $10 million grant from the Asian Development Fund. She and 11 other women with disabilities from Sokuluk village signed up and took part in the training in May and June of 2018. Their physical challenges made travel difficult, so the instructors came to them.
A year later, Ainura applied the manicurist skills she learned to make Som1,000–Som1,500 ($14–$21) a week working at home. “It feels wonderful to earn a living doing something you love,” she said. She expects her home business income to rise to as much as Som1,000 ($14) a day. Ainura plans to keep building her skills and to pass on her training to other women with disabilities in Sokuluk. She is focused most, however, on what once seemed impossible. “I plan to bring my son home next year.”
The Second Vocational Education and Skills Development Project that helped transform Ainura’s life—established with financing from the Skills Development Fund—trained 17,500 people, almost half of whom were women. Nearly 74% of all graduates found jobs within three months of graduating. Graduates included Mubina Samitova and Akmoor Rysbaeva, two friends who first met at a school for hearing impaired children in the southern Osh region. The two enrolled in a professional cookery course in April 2019 and gained practical experience in the kitchens of local cafés.
“I can’t wait to start working,” said Mubina, confident after her graduation in June that she will soon be employed and using her new skills. Akmoor is thinking long term. “Eventually, I want to open my own little restaurant and call it Akmoor’s.”