A New Moon Rises

The Kyrgyz Republic is a CIS country, a sovereign state of 6 million people, sandwiched between China, Uzbekistan, Turkistan and Kazakhstan. Landlocked and mountainous it contains an abundance of intense beauty including Lake Issyk-Kul, the 10th largest in the world. After decades of Soviet control, the lake had become full of garbage threatening a blossoming tourism industry and making locals feel ashamed. Aijan Moonspirt Chynybaeva a mother of three, businesswomen, coach and leader of several women’s organisations decided to step up and clean the lake. This action has taken her on a journey, influencing government, empowering women and communities and now she is contributing her considerable force to the Let’s Do It World Clean Up Day 2018. Here she gives some background and insight into her indomitable spirit, tireless energy, and beautiful outlook, a guiding light showing how to overcome problems in not only her own country but in the world.

Regarding World Cleanup day 2018, for me I was very inspired to participate in the Leaders Academy this year in Estonia, it’s amazing to see how so many people with the same thoughts and the same ideas are helping each other, and how they are sharing their experiences. And I think this is one of the best experiences I have had in my life to see people with open hearts, ready to put their lives into saving the planet. I am full of admiration, and motivated by people who are doing the great job and working so hard. I will do my best to have 5% of the Kyrgyz Republic participating in world cleanup day. And I do believe this 5% will influence the rest of our community, and our country will be the first CIS country to have a very clean environment inspiring other nations to do the same.

What, Where, Why and How?

Why am I participating in cleanups? It is amazing that so many people are united by the idea of cleaning nature. I had this thought that I had to do it, and my husband did not believe that people would come and he said, ‘why do you have to clean, take care of your business, you cannot clean all of nature alone.’ So I decided to show him and find people who would understand me. They were people I didn’t know who contacted me through Facebook, it was 100 people, very sincerely helping to clean the lake. They were not coming to go swimming or for free food, they were coming to clean. We all met and it was amazing. I transported people to the lake, it takes about 4 hours from our capital Bishkek. People arrived for 6am and we drove out of the city and started cleaning at 10am. We cleaned for about 5 hours and collected 4000 kilograms of Waste. Everyone was satisfied that we had removed so much trash from the shores of Lake Issy-Kul Lake (“warm lake” in the Kyrgyz language), and so happy, we all felt like heroes, and that we could do something good in such a short time.

Children of this Earth

Regarding so many women involved in cleanup campaigns. It occurs naturally, women for centuries were the ones responsible for keeping house, caring for children and keeping the environment clean. And cleanups are inspiring a lot of women who are leaders of their countries and communities. They are seeing the problem of waste as one of their biggest problems. We don’t want to be sexist here and say men are bad and don’t care about garbage, but I think women can have their own approaches in making the process more efficient, we know how to clean quickly, cheaply and productively, so we are seeing a lot of women leaders who are creating environmental organisations and campaigns, and they are very successful. I just want to express my gratitude women all around the world who are participating and putting their lives into the war against garbage. And I want to thank all the men who are supporting these kinds of movements. The planet is not divided between men and women, we are all children of this earth and we have to do our best to save it.

For the Independence of Women in Our Country

For me it’s a big honour to be an example for a lot of ladies who are in a situation when they were just housewives who did not know what to do. Now they have started businesses, and already have had some success, so I am very happy to be a part of this lady’s movement – Kurak which unites a lot of ladies trying to improve the lives of Kyrgyz people in our country.

For me, so many things should be done in my country after we lost our independence for 25 years. Unfortunately a lot of different groups are trying to influence our country with improper behaviour towards women. I’m talking especially about radical religious influences trying to make our women cover up, putting them back to 100 years ago. And we are trying to look forward, and improve things for the new generations. I am sometimes very upset and scared about the situation. I’m especially concerned about women in some villages, abused by husbands, and sometimes by uneducated and improper leaders of certain religious organizations, where people are brainwashed and cannot think about freedom of choice.

I grew up in the Soviet Union and women had equal rights with men. Equal rights for education, for expressing ourselves, freedom of choice, and most of the time it was not a question of whether a woman could have an education. In my time, I am afraid that during the independence period we lost a lot of educated people and now we are facing the problem of finding good teachers for schools, good doctors for hospitals, and overall a good intellectual community. A lot of people are leaving to study abroad and not coming back. It’s one of the biggest threats, having non-educated people in our country, and a threat to our future development.

More Roads Open for My Daughter

On the other hand, my daughter now has more choices when it comes to schooling. In Soviet times we just had Kyrgyz and Russian speaking schools, now we have Turkish, German, English, Chinese, a whole variety of schools where kids can develop and develop their talents. You can get a very good education in my country if you are talented, you can get into an international school, which have a very high standard of education. As everywhere you have different opportunities depending on one’s economic situation, and if come from a good background there are now more choices and more opportunities. She has a lot of open roads in her life. This is something unique compared to my childhood. And now compared to some girls in the villages, who already don’t go to school after 15 years old, and at 17 are forced to get married.  So, girls are not motivated to study and get a good education, because the parents are trying their best to find them a good marriage, so they don’t have many choices.

The Prosperity of Our Country in the Hands of Strong Woman

I can also say that we have a lot of strong powerful women in government, in different sectors of our ministries, and we have quite a number of ladies who are leaders in different social organisations, and I do hope that this movement of educated and strong intelligent women will influence the whole development of my country. We are getting more attention now as a big community of women leaders who are trying to affect problems such as child abuse and the abuse of women. To support the empowerment of women, and of course finding better opportunities for women to start up new projects, find their talents in life. I am involved in several projects that are dealing with the ongoing development of tourism, small and medium sized business, I am coaching in a lot of these projects, and I see a lot of women who want to change their lives and are doing great. And I really see the future prosperity of our country coming through these strong women.

Recycling Plants and Waste as a Resource

I am very proud to say that our movement cleaning up Issyk-Kul Lake and the nature around the capital was a good example and very inspirational. Now the Prime Minister of our country just this year made a new big announcement that cleanup campaigns will start from March 1st – 31st of May, where there will be 3 months of national cleanup days. We will be uniting so many organisations and people who work for government, NGOs, and the universities will be involved, medical departments, and everyone who wants to clean the country. And it is a very good sign that people are listening, and I believe we will produce results. The government is now working on a plan to prepare several recycling plants all over the Kyrgyz Republic, it’s a very good sign that finally our government understands that we should work with waste; because waste is a resource and finally they realise it can create revenue which can be used in a proper way to improve nature. I am very happy to learn that our government made a decision with several organisations such as EBRD and the World Bank to finance a new sanitation system around Issyk-Kul lake, it is very good news because a lot of tourists were coming to the old Soviet built hotels and the sanitation system was in a poor condition, so now we will have a new system around the whole lake.

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