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‘Living with hope’ -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

‘Living with hope’


In 2001, international volunteers and new neighbors joined Bektur and Ryskiul Usonov at the dedication of their new home in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Kyrgyzstan


For 12 years, the Usonovs’ home has been a gathering place for relatives and friends. Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Kyrgyzstan


Next: Q&A with Bektur Usonov
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12 years after moving into a Habitat home, a family counts its blessings

By Habitat for Humanity Kyrgyzstan staff

Six times in a dozen years, Bektur Usonov and his family moved from apartment to apartment in Kyrgyzstan. They trekked from one rough neighborhood to the next, gathering their few, simple belongings and moving into small, cramped corners.

“Sometimes it was terrible places,” Usonov said.

Nearly 70 percent of the Kyrgyz population lives in substandard homes or is homeless. The Usonovs were poor and had little hope for the future.

“We are a family who likes to socialize and share,” Usonov said. “Sometimes, we found it hard to come back to our rented, tiny place after visiting relatives or friends.”

That was then.

Since 2001, the lives of Usonov and his family have changed completely. They were one of the first families to partner with Habitat for Humanity in the former Soviet country of Kyrgyzstan. The Usonovs helped build their home in the capital, Bishkek, in a community that has grown to include 70 Habitat families.

In 2010, the Usonovs fully repaid their Habitat loan. Bektur, 49, who works in construction, now serves on Habitat Kyrgyzstan’s board of directors. He often sits on the Habitat family selection committee and works with new partner families. His wife, Ryskiul, 48, is a doctor. She earns about US$260 a month as a Kyrgyz civil servant.

The Usonovs’ daughter, Aida, 7, was born in their Habitat house. They also have a 24-year-old son, Bakyt, who was raised mostly by his grandparents until his parents were able to move into a decent house. The couple’s nieces — Shirin, 22, and Meerim, 21 — also live with the Usonovs.

Now, with their situation so improved, the Usonovs have been able to build and furnish a small guesthouse for visiting relatives and friends in the backyard of their Habitat home.

Now, we enjoy our life,” Bektur said. “Step by step, we are improving.”

Habitat Kyrgyzstan recently asked Usonov to talk about what impact the Habitat house has had on his family since 2001.