News

Aiman’s Story

28 July 2014

 

Hello, my name is Aiman. I am 19 years old. I work in a non-governmental organization and I am a volunteer of the youth peer education network Y-PEER.
It is not easy to explain my feelings, why I decided to tell you my story about my young life.

I was 8 years old when my parents divorced. It seems to me that at that moment I first realized that life can be cruel. My grandmother was taking care of my up-bringing for nine years. I love her very much. My grandmother’s daughter, my aunt, lived with us in my grandmother’s house. But my grandmother gave me, her grandson, more of her maternal love, than she did to her own daughter.

I was very much afraid to upset my dear and beloved grandmother. I have learned during my childhood what it means to hurt somebody. So I tried in every way to obey her, do well in school. But I did not always succeed. Grandma thought that since I lived with her, I should belong only to her, always be near her. She was jealous of my few friends (though now I realize that they were not friends), she scolded me for long walks (and I just love the long solitary walks), that is, she did all she could to make me always be in her sight.

Only after some time I began to understand why my grandmother tried so hard to be protective, and did not let me go far away from her. It was because I was different from all the rest. When did I realize this? I do not know. But at school, I remember this for sure, I did not pay attention to the girls, I did not fight with the boys, I did not do any hooliganism, but tried to be near them. Very soon I felt the mocking looks of my peers cast at me. I was no longer admitted to take part in the boys’ games and was being teased. I was at a loss, but I continued to study diligently, while becoming more introverted.

Today I know myself and I can defend myself. Yes, I am not straight. I like men more and I want to be liked by them. As a child I did not realize what was happening with me. Would you like to know what my feelings were during those days? There was no one to give advice to me or comfort me, add here the stress from the feeling of inferiority, as it seemed to me then that I experienced loneliness because I was not able to share it with any person on the Earth.

Despite the love of my grandmother, in my childhood I remembered my mom, often recalling time when I was with my parents, and I was so anxious to return to those days. When I was16 years old, my father came and offered to move in with him. He had already had a new family. Without thinking too long I packed my bags and moved from my grandmother’s house into my father’s house. I did not realize at that moment that by doing it I hurt my beloved grandmother.

I was hoping to get love, affection and attention in my father’s house. Although, now, when recalling I scold myself. Why did I decide to run away from the love of my grandmother to the father’s love? I ran away from love in search of new love, is not ridiculous, is not it sad to hear these words? My stay in the house of my father was not long. I left him and returned to my grandmother. Father took no action to bring me back, or even just talk to me, to find out why I left.

Upon my return to my grandmother, I began to think what to do after graduation from school. I was trying to seek relief from my loneliness, my feeling of inferiority with my new dreams and plans. But the destiny presented me a new shock. My elder brother, whom I trusted and respected, stopped to communicate with me. When our parents divorced, I felt as if somebody cut off my wings, and I could no longer fly, but the love of my grandmother gave me these wings back. After the second beloved person -my older brother disappeared from my life, I felt devastated. I had no wings. I did not want to live. My values were transformed into the emptiness.

At the age of 17 I was already fully aware that I was not like most of my peers, having analyzed my life, including sexual life, I decided that I was to change my attitude to life and the people around me, to myself, and should not expect that someone would make my wishes come true; I should do something about it myself. I decided to go into my own shell. Actually, I characterize my withdrawal as a reaction to my experiences. I had no friends, no parents, no brother. My Grandma was holding a grudge against me because of my continuous escapes from home. I had to do something to have a new life. In late autumn, at the end of November, I once again packed my bags and left home. I was going towards a new life.

I then decided for myself that I must learn to live a new life. I saw the breakthrough in the search for a new world, without fear of the world itself and with a full comprehension that you – are you and that you are, first of all, a human being, though different from the others.

At that moment I wanted to become useful to someone else. I knew that by my departure once again I hurt my grandmother, a person loved me and still loves me. But her love, as I now understand demanded the rejection of the world, I was to belong to her alone. She was jealous of my desire to get freedom, to become independent. Perhaps by doing it she wanted to protect me from today’s world, various obstacles and barriers that may occur during lifetime of any human being. But I grew up, evolved from a child into a young man, and it seemed to me that I can be an open, free man, helping other young people with a similar fate, loving, enjoying life and just living.

Aiman2It’s today that I realize that love can be different. My grandmother’s love had all colors: from bright, vibrant, and ending with cold, dark tones. After leaving home, I was hoping that the people who called themselves my friends, would not leave me, that they would continue to love me, as it was during the period of my life in my grandmother’s house. But it turned out that it was not like that. None of them offered me help, none of them extended their hand to me. They all walled off from me. Yes, yesterday’s friends who clapped on my shoulder and were saying that I did the right thing when I left my grandmother’s house, that this how children grow into adults and develop independence. But I knew about this without them. I was expecting to get quite different things from them. My old friends were gone. For two days I lived in the street. On the third morning, I met young people, perfect strangers to me, but who managed to give me my wings back. These guys were members of the initiative group called “Indigo.” Their job was to educate teens and youth in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

While rescuing others – a person rescues himself/herself – this saying perfectly describes the activities carried out by volunteers of the “Indigo.” I am grateful that it was the volunteers of the “Indigo” whom I met on the third day after my escape from home, my escape from my past life. Some time later I was offered work for the “Indigo”. I felt that I was important to other people, and other people needed me. Later I became a volunteer of the youth network Y-PEER. I am impressed by the philosophy of Y-PEER. In general, Y-PEER – is a huge international family, where any young person can find a friend, meet a like-minded person, find help, advice and new knowledge. I like the spirit of freedom of Y-PEER. What I did not get from my parents, grandparents, friends, school years, I have received and continue to receive at seminars and meetings of Y-PEER. I like one of the principles of information transfer and acquisition of knowledge through seminars of Y-PEER. I mean the principle of “peer-to-peer”. I recently realized that most adolescents and young people would like to receive advice and support from their parents or relatives. However, with rare exceptions parents are not prepared or willing to discuss with their children issues of maturity or issues of sexual and reproductive health. Adults for the most part are unsure as to what information should be provided to children. At the same time teens are very unprotected, very vulnerable; I myself was a teenager and I know what it means. And today when I meet with young people during various information actions, campaigns, or seminars, I see that help in addressing health issues, sexual maturation of their children, issues of sexual and reproductive health is important not only for them, but also for their parents.

I like to teach other young people. I like to share new knowledge, new information that I possess. We use different opportunities for meetings with young people. We conduct our information activities on HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), tuberculosis in schools, universities, clubs, in city streets. Recently, we held a festival in one of the city swimming pools. Knowing that a lot of young boys and girls were frequenting this swimming pool, we decided to tell them about reproductive rights in a form of an interactive talk. We handed out flyers and booklets. I was pleased to hear “Thank you” from them. Once again I was ascertained that it was important to speak, to tell about it, to inform, and present it in a language that is understandable to youth. If it comes from a young man, then there are more chances that you’ll be heard.

During these two years I’ve changed a lot. How did I change? I’m not afraid of the world and I am not afraid of people. And most importantly, I saw, I realized that I am not alone, and it gives me strength to live and work in the NGO and protect both my rights and the rights of other young people. Through my approach to life, I demonstrate to them how important it is to exercise willpower and courage to admit first of all to yourself and accept yourself the way you are.

Do you know what else I noticed about myself? My salvation or a new way came to me not just from the people, who attracted me to work in a non-governmental organization for educating and informing young people about sexual and reproductive health, but also from art. Having immersed into myself, having spent so much time alone, I began to write more poetry. Do you remember, I said that I love to write poetry? So today, I would like to rediscover the beauty of nature and man, and through this discovery to open my heart to the world and to appreciate every moment of life. My open heart helps me in everyday work with young people, who find themselves in a vulnerable position. Today, in Kyrgyzstan, 38.8% of total number of identified persons living with HIV are young people between 15 and 29 years of age. That is why today it is so important to educate adolescents on issues of sexual and reproductive health. Not every person will find the strength to carry out such work. I, like my colleagues, other volunteers, have managed to find an approach. And I’m pleased with myself. In order to tell myself these words, I had to go through some tests. But I’m thankful that all this happened. I believe that everything will be well in the future.

By the way, do you want to know how my name is translated from the Kyrgyz language? “The unbending one.” My life is in my name. “If you think that there is no strength to live, you should still do something”- this is what I usually say to every teenager, a young man who comes to us for advice. For a start – get up, go for a walk, listen to nature, feel the warmth of sunshine on your face. Finally, just wash the dishes, clean the house, prepare material for the seminar, write a poem. And most important – is to feel that you are not alone. You should be aware that there are people around you, though not close friends, but the people on whose faces there is no expression of grief and contempt, but smiles and understanding, help and support. Don’t you agree that in today’s world young people, who are vulnerable or at risk, often are short of just understanding and support.