As a child, Feruza Alimova dreamed of becoming a lawyer so she could help disabled people.
But the 22-year-old cannot pursue a law degree because a bone deformity keeps her homebound. Her parents, who make a living growing cotton and tobacco in the Kyrgyzstani hamlet of Chekabad, in the Ferghana Valley, spend a large chunk of their income on expensive medications for Feruza and two other children suffering a similar bone condition.
Mukhabat, Feruza’s mother, says neighbors blamed her and her husband for their children’s disabilities. “We were also ashamed at the beginning, but gradually we decided that what mattered is not the opinions of others, but the happiness of our children,” Mukhabat told EurasiaNet.org.
Because public minibuses do not accommodate her wheelchair, Feruza could not attend law school. Instead, last year she completed a knitting course offered by a local vocational school.
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Alisher Khamidov is a researcher specializing in Central Asian affairs.