It started the night before. A squad of 12 of the national TV, radio and print press descended on our hotel and wanted us to give a press conference. The topic? Why are we doing this bike ride and why have we chosen a UNICEF project in Kyrgyzstan as the one we’d like to provide funding for?
Next day, together with journalists in tow, we headed to the village of At Bashi to hear from those at the coalface what UNICEF and the communities are doing to get children to school and keep them there. For families with demands on their children to help just get food on the table, the challenge is daunting.
But so has been the success. At the school we were to visit later that day, there was 70% attendance in 2004 and it’s now over 90% – and still rising. The community has mobilised, peer pressure is slowly working on other families.
But the school facilities are dismal. With minus 50 degrees in the winter here, and a partly working fumey coal-fired heating system giving the kids respiratory problems, progress hasn’t always been made. There are few books, no sports equipment, the floor is rotten and the mud walls eroding. Remember the community is desperately poor just housing and feeding themselves so with all the best intentions in the world, there is still a need for funds to make the local school actually function.
And the State give US$5 dollars per year per child compared to the developed country average of US$2,000. And its dropping.
So Silkriders are focussing on getting financial resources to this school in Kyrgyzstan. We hope you can help. Please donate to our UNICEF project on the form on this site and become a member of the Silkriders UNICEF project team. No amount is too small.
See the photo album.