Astana, Kazahstan – Day 6

Veniamin’s colleague, Murat arranged a quick trip in the morning to see Bayterek Observation Tower. It is 105 meters in height, with the top floor at 97 meters, to signify the Independence of Kazakhstan in 1997. I did not go up, because of my fear of heights, but Mary did …back to my ferris wheels phobia of the past! 

After this, it was so exciting to have an interview with I was interviewed via Skype, by a reporter who spoke in Russian; the conversation was translated by my translator and close friend Lukerya. It was a wonderful interview, talking about the need for employment and access in the country. I am so thrilled about the sincere interest and hope for people with disabilities to gain employment!

For lunch, I met with Ms. Irina Smirnova, the Deputy of the Parliament; she demonstrates an incredible sincerity to see a change in stigma country-wide. This was a very exciting event of the trip; Irina wants us to help her country and prepare for and participate in an event she would like to host, to reduce stigma, increase disability awareness, with a focus on epilepsy. She wants to make this happen! She wants to make a model of change for the country of Kazakhstan! I committed to help her with this event. It is overwhelming to have an opportunity to work with the U.S. State Department in advancing change in the area of disability employment throughout Asia!

After the luncheon, I delivered another seminar on the employment of people with disabilities with disability rights advocates, people with disabilities, and representatives of the state employment agencies.  If you have been reading prior days’ blogs, we delivered this seminar in each of the 4 cities in Kazakhstan.

At the reception after the seminar, Mary met a young man who was imprisoned, for eight years based on false charges. He is a wheelchair user and a devoted disability rights leader. It is terrible when we hear about oppression. In his case, the U.N. was able to help him and identified him as a victim of torture. Amazingly, this man has a great attitude. It reminds me of how thankful we should be to celebrate the rights to independence in our country!

When this seminar ended, we were off to the airport for our next trip to Shymkent.

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