Darika Mambetova lives in a two-room apartment in Kyrgyzstan with her three adolescent grandsons. Her son and daughter-in-law, the boys’ parents, haven’t been back from Russia since they left two years ago in search of work. Another daughter lives in Kazakhstan.
Mambetova, 63, fears she is unable to provide the boys the kind of guidance and discipline that they need.
“What kind of upbringing we can talk about? It is better when kids live with their parents,” she said, squatting to bake bread in a small electric stove on the floor of her home in the provincial city of Naryn. “I think the future might not be so good. When kids are without their parents, there is something they are missing. Even if they do something wrong, I can’t punish my grandchildren.”
Though her son sends remittances, “he can’t send money regularly. They are collecting money to get Russian citizenship,” Mambetova explained.
Mambetova’s predicament highlights a major potential social problem connected with current labor migration trends: the creation of an abandoned generation.
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David Trilling is EurasiaNet’s Central Asia news editor.