IT is my freedom
I like swimming in the lake, my legs work well there. I put on a life preserver and walk in the water.
And I feel freedom.

Aizat is 27 years old, recently she graduated from the IT Academy where she learned how to create websites. She wants to move to the city and live the ordinary life of an independent person.

She needed only to find her calling and buy an electric carriage.
A congenital dislocation of the hips put Aizat in a wheelchair in childhood, because of difficulties with movement in her native village, she studied only five classes of secondary school. The IT Academy gave Aizat the rarest opportunity to acquire a profession and be realized in society even without school education.
In the Issyk-Kul oblast there are two Korumdu villages: one is right on the coast and neighbors the largest guesthouses, the second is located far from the lake itself, closer to China.
Aizat was born and spent all her 27 years of life in remote Korumdu.
She is the eldest of four children, but still needs care, since it is difficult for her to move in a wheelchair by herself.

For a long time, Aizat sat at home, occupied herself with various hobbies: she knitted beret caps, learned how to do nails, and studied design in polygraphy courses.

I cannot walk. I have a congenital pathological dislocation of the two thighs.
When I was a child I could walk, it became a bit heavy later, and I sat down in a wheelchair.

Since then, more than ten years have passed. We used to live in the village itself. Then we moved closer to the mountains, it became difficult to get to the school. My father at first drove me to school, later he stopped.

So I studied only until fifth grade.

In Kyrgyzstan there are 28200 children under the age of 18 with disabilities, and only 28% of them have access to education.
In 2015, she met Gulmira Kazakunova, head of "Ravenstvo" Union of People with Disabilities, who invited her to self-development training in one of the camps on the banks of Issyk-Kul Lake.

Aizat's parents presented her with this trip for her birthday.

Training has changed her life. Aizat made friends with the same characteristics that understood her needs, experiences and dreams, and still keep in touch with her.
"Before that, I was very reserved, I did not go anywhere. I always thought why everyone looks at me, I had complexes.

After the training, my environment has changed, I started to go somewhere.

I do not want to sit at home".
The closest friends of Aizat work in the association of girls with special health needs "Nazik Kyz", where they model and sew custom-made bags and children's clothes.
In the summer of 2018, Aizat, among 25 young people with disabilities, entered the IT Academy as part of the "Programming without Barriers" project,

implemented by the Kyrgyz Association of Software and Services Developers with the support of the European Union.
I have ordinary friends, but I am not as close with them as with Venera and Umutai. We know each other like the palm of our hands. I offered them to rent an apartment and live together, go to work together.

Venera, by the way, once studied programming; she would like to enter the IT-Academy if they repeat the enrolment.
Aizat passed the final project - a site that she developed from scratch, and graduated from the IT-Academy.
This is her first systematic training experience after a long break since she left school.
Aizat's parents did not know that they could hire tutors and continue the school course at home. Therefore, the heroine has gaps in academic knowledge, but she reads a lot - books about people's psychology, about self-actualization. But in truth, now the programming languages application icons occupied the place of e-books in her phone: HTML, Java Script.
"Programming does not require constant presence in the workplace, I think it suits me. It also broadens my horizons, every day I get new knowledge.

When we entered the Academy, we passed the test at Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University. This was my first exams experience. I was very afraid that I would not pass, because I have little theoretical knowledge, in practice I master everything pretty quickly.

With the start of training, I became more responsible. Previously, there was nothing that I was obliged to do. Even for myself"
After graduation, graduates were offered a two-month internship in Bishkek companies.
IT Academy was founded with the aim to provide the disabled students with the opportunity to get a suitable profession with a decent salary. Training at the IT-Academy was conducted in five stages: training in groups was replaced by distance and vice versa.

A website was created to optimize the educational process on which each student had its own profile. Using it the students watched video lessons from the Academy teachers and downloaded completed tasks.

Students were provided with study materials and laptops for the entire period of study. And they were required to organize access to the Internet for remote study of the topic at home. Each student had to pass a graduation project in order to receive a certificate in the field of IT industry.
My life is divided into "before" IT and "after".
In the beginning it was very difficult at the Academy. Somewhere in the middle of training I had even thought to leave the Academy. Then I thought: "Parents believe in me. So much has already been passed,"- and I stayed. Now I am glad that I did not succumb to the difficulties at the beginning.
It was hard to work on a laptop. I did not know how to save the file, did not know the meaning of Ctrl+S. We have very good teachers, they have always helped. Now my time, which I used to devote to friends, knitting and housework, is entirely devoted to my studies.

When something goes wrong for me, I think it is not mine. Probably, this is mine, because I studied printing art, quit, but returned to a similar area - working on a laptop, design, photoshop.

I came back - it means that it is my way.
Aizat wants to create applications that are useful for people with special needs, for example, so that they can call a taxi convenient for transporting wheelchairs.

She wants to create voluminous websites, large projects, wants to work in a large IT company, become a professional in her field, earn and support herself.
"I think the trainings helped me. I saw people like me that I am not the only one.

We must start with such training in psychology. It all depends on how a person perceives himself.

If you do not be closed, then others are also attracted to you. You have to accept yourself as you are.

Parents are very proud of me. Dad always tells someone that I am learning to program, that I have been chosen from so many people.

I tell my dad: "Wait a while, do not praise, first I need to finish my studies."
Average programmer's salary is 500-800 US Dollars a month.
Programmers are second only to the financiers in the ranking of highly paid professions, earning an average of about 500-800 dollars a month, which is three to four times higher than the average salary in Kyrgyzstan.

The demand for IT-specialists is growing every year, but in the information technology sector of Kyrgyzstan there is a very low percentage of women.
Aizat's father:
"We have a large farm - 1 hectare 9700 sq. m. Cows, sheep, horses, chickens.

Aizat has a 2500 sq. m. land. We want to build a house for her there with one or two rooms.

She wants a house in Bishkek, but to do this we need money that we never dreamed of".

Aizat can move in the city only with the help of her friends or relatives, since the level of accessibility of urban institutions for disabled people is very low.

You can ride around the city only in trolleybuses with a low threshold and a special ramp, which is not always lowered, or in spacious passenger taxis, for which you need to pay extra.
In the summer, Aizat wants to buy an electronic wheelchair on which she can move independently. And at home, he will continue to use the usual wheelchair, so that the body is not weakened without loads.

There are compartment-type doors in the house and rooms are expanded so that Aizat can comfortably move around in a wheelchair.
I remember once I waited for my little sister at the underpass, because I cannot descend into it. A woman comes up to me and gives me money.
- No, I don't need money, I'm just waiting for my little sister,
- Oh, sorry.

It's terrible when they do that. You seem to be dressed normally, sitting normally. On the street, sometimes they don't even ask you what help you need and start moving the wheelchair. I know better how to do it.
Aizat has recently been thinking about activist activities, has become interested in the movement of local activist Oscar Rice for installing the right ramps in urban institutions.
"Ramps are a very important topic for us. When we are going to meet with friends somewhere, then we need to look at what entrance they have, whether they have steps or a ramp.

This is our main problem. We are always looking for a place with a low ramp, preferably without stairs.

In truth, IT is more important for me now. I want to finish the project, to have an internship, learn more, see, train, and then help".

I want to marry a physically fit person. Before that, I thought that people like us can only understand people like us. But now I understand that you should not limit yourself to such a framework.

On the way to self-actualization, Aizat still has to overcome many barriers, both physical and social, but now she has an ace in her sleeve in the form of a programming skill for which there are no boundaries.
© 2019 EU Delegation in Kyrgyzstan.