“Would you be able to help me?”

It is true that there is nothing constant in the world,
but evil will not last forever.
Isn’t it so that after a harsh Winter
comes the deepest blooming Spring?
Abai, famous Kazakh poet

“Would you be able to help me?”

Behind the calm quiet exterior, embarrassed at having to ask the question, you could feel something wasn’t right. The kids were happily running around, but there was something else behind those sad eyes, almost a look of despair.

In this society, having children can be more about cementing a relationship than making an informed life decision, whilst women are often treated as rather less than equals. It can be hard for those coming from different cultural backgrounds to understand, but they say here that every girl wants to grow up to get married, become a mother and care for a happy home. This is still often very true, but the sad reality is that modern society is so often broken in some way – and when that happens, it’s almost always the woman who is left to pick up the pieces.

Take Ramzia, for example. She has four young kids who are 5, 3, 2 and 8 months. Each was a much longed-for child who, it was hoped, would create a new happy family for her with the child’s father. But things aren’t that simple, and men aren’t always very reliable. Tragically, one after another, each one disappeared as soon as his child was born. She’s now left alone to bring up four kids, and each child’s father is entirely absent from their lives.

20150915_154213Ramzia and her precious family

We can’t judge, but we can care. As we talked, and she told us about their difficulties, her life, the pain she felt, and the joy of motherhood, it became apparent that here was someone desperately trying to do everything she could, yet in massive need – of support, of friendship, of someone to just be there for her.

It’s not hard to imagine quite how tough it is to be a single mother of three, living on incredibly meagre means without the kind of social security payments normal in the West. And then, just a few weeks ago, Ramzia hit a disaster when their house and all their belongings were destroyed in a fire, leaving this family essentially ruined.

Thanks to Ramzia’s mother, the family was able to find temporary shelter in her grandmother’s house. And then the local authorities promised to help rebuild the house. “You can survive all that,” said this woman of strength, “because most importantly none of my kids were hurt. They are my greatest riches!”

It was an enormous honour for Salem Social Village to help this struggling woman and her kids with clothing and various other needed items. And she also reminded us of an important lesson: let us never forget what is truly important, and to genuinely cherish it.