Like most residents of her children’s home in Osh, Nargiza is a part-time orphan. Her father disappeared when she was born and her mother works long spells in Russia. Nargiza has no siblings and doesn’t know her grandparents. But she does see her mother from time to time.
“I live with my mother when she is in town,” says the wide-eyed 10-year-old. “No one comes to visit me when my mother is in Russia. She says nobody gives us money and that is why she must go to Russia to work hard.”
For many, the words “orphan” and “Kyrgyzstan,” when said in one breath, conjure up stories of international adoption scandals, corrupt middlemen, and a moratorium on adoptions by foreign parents. But for sociologists and psychologists, the larger tragedy is that thousands of children with living parents are ending up in Kyrgyzstan’s orphanages in the first place.
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Hamid Tursunov is a freelance writer from Osh.