USAID Kyrgyz Republic Exposure Features: “New Skills for a New Start”
The USAID Safe Migration in Central Asia (SMICA) activity’s work with partners to avert trafficking, safeguard survivors and foster safe migration was featured on USAID Kyrgyz Republic’s Exposure page on Nov. 10, 2021. “New Skills for a New Start” offers a real-world perspective on how the SMICA activity benefits and strengthens livelihoods.
The Exposure piece follows the employment journey of 30-year-old Saadat, a former accountant searching for a stable career in order to provide for her family. Saadat becomes part of the 1 million Kyrgyz who are working abroad when she finds work in Russia as a hotel maid and waitress. But when the COVID pandemic broke out, she returned home to her old job as an accountant. More than 50% of Kyrgyz migrants are women.
“It was a difficult time for us,” Saadat said. “My parents got the virus and I had to look after them. My husband lost his job and most of his savings were spent on the treatment and our daily expenses.”
A SMICA advertisement turned her trials into an opportunity. In 2020, SMICA partnered with the “50,000 Programmers” project, offering free courses for returning migrants interested in training for sought-after jobs in coding, digital marketing, app development, graphic design, social media management, and more.
Saadat enrolled in a 10-week social media management virtual training course, enabling her to start a small business marketing and selling clothes online. She also used her new skills to attract additional marketing business from other enterprises and earned enough income to quit her accounting job, though her employer convinced her to continue on a freelance basis.
“So now I spend more time with my children and continue earning money from both my online business and freelance work,” Saadat said. “I had sought to make changes by going abroad, instead I found them in my home country.”
By 2023, SMICA’s goal is to sponsor training for 350 returning migrants; so far the program has sponsored training for 135 returning migrants.