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Kyrgyzstan: Women that build homes

Thirty-eight year-old Jyldyzkan Sapaeva changed homes for the family ten times in 15 years of marriage. With a small accountant’s income and her husband’s policeman’s salary they could only afford food for the household. It was impossible to buy even a small apartment, as they had to pay the full price of the house upfront when signing an ownership contract.

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Jyldyzkan Sapaeva(far right) with her daughter and husband in the new home.

“We were totally dependent on the landlords of the houses we rented. They could ask us to leave any moment!”said Jyldyzkan. Their last home was a small one-room apartment in the Soviet-era panel block house. It had no bathroom or proper heating. The Sapaevs used a stove and heated their home with firewood and coal. Many neighbors used self-made electric stoves for heating. Thus, the building often experienced electricity outages during winter.

Through the Habitat Kyrgyzstan project, Jyldyzkan’s family built a simple and decent home. Their new house has electricity, hot and cold water and enough room where they all feel safe and healthy. All this would have been impossible without help from local and international women volunteers.

Habitat Kyrgyzstan hosts international women volunteers through the Women Build program. Local women are also getting together on the building site to work on the construction of new houses. This gives them an opportunity to change their lives and those of their children, and also do something to get out of poverty.

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Women from different countries come to help Kyrgyz women to build homes.

“Women Build is Habitat’s volunteer program for women who want to learn construction skills and make a difference by building homes and communities. Women Build projects are regularly held by Habitat affiliates across the United States and by Habitat organizations around the world. At these builds women have furthered Habitat’s home-building mission by helping to construct more than 1,650 houses”, says Nana from the Women Build department of Habitat for Humanity. The Women Build department sponsors such builds in Kyrgyzstan.

The mission of women building is to empower women to take action against poor housing conditions. It is not about excluding men. It is about including women and opening new doors of opportunity for them. This is true especially in such conservative societies as Central Asia where women still struggle to play a dominant role in their communities.

What is next?
Habitat wants people not only to read about poverty housing but do something to fight it. You can support Habitat’s work in Europe and Central Asia in a number of ways. Here are some examples:

• Visit our donations page to support projects in Kyrgyzstan.
• Go to country profile pages to learn about other programs in this country.

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