Photo exhibition in Kazakhstan: 30 stories of very different people who were helped by the UN

Фотовыставка в Казахстане: 30 историй очень разных людей, которым помогла ООН

Exhibition “UN and I”. Photo exhibition in Kazakhstan: 30 stories of very different people who were helped by the UN Culture and education

The capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, hosts a photo exhibition “UN & Me” – 30 stories of ordinary Kazakhstanis, whose perseverance, determination and faith in the best not only changed their own lives, but also contributed to the development of the country.

From students to doctors and entrepreneurs, from civil society leaders to policymakers and agronomists, each story demonstrates the strength of the human spirit and the importance of support from a global community.

For more than 30 years, the UN has been actively supporting various initiatives and projects in Kazakhstan, contributing to the development of society and improving the quality of life of its citizens. In 2023, Kazakhstan made significant progress towards sustainable development by adopting a Carbon Neutrality Strategy, a new Social Code, accelerating the inclusive delivery of digitally enabled services, and taking measures to improve the protection of socio-economic rights of vulnerable groups.

The UN supported Kazakhstan and provided the country with policy advice, promoted international norms and standards, and implemented a number of programs to promote the Sustainable Development Goals.

According to the UN report on activities in Kazakhstan presented today, joint UN financial support for this country with partners last year amounted to $33.3 million.

““UN and I” is not only about the United Nations, it’s about you and me, about every person who contributes to the common good of the world. Exhibitions like this are important and serve as a reminder of the incredible resilience and strength of the human spirit and inspire us to continue to work towards building a more just, equitable and sustainable world,” said UN Coordinator in Kazakhstan Michaela Friberg-Story.

Deputy with a disability

Among the heroes of the exhibition is Senator Lyazzat Kaltaeva, one of six deputies with disabilities in the country. She is actively involved in protecting the rights of people with disabilities, including defending the reproductive rights of women with disabilities.

Lyazzat Kaltaeva is a partner of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Lyazzat believes the UN has expanded her understanding of the global disability movement and the fight for women’s rights.

Senator Avtino supports the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities: “Countries that ratify such documents see positive changes in the lives of people with disabilities.”

Lyazzat’s motto is “Keep your back straight, no matter how uneven it may be.”

A refugee studying to become a doctor

Yasamin arrived in Kazakhstan as a refugee in 2006, when she was just one year old. Thanks to the support of the UN Refugee Agency, she entered the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University as part of the Bologna Process and is studying to become a doctor.

Enrollment in university was a turning point in her life. “The UN helped me overcome difficulties, get a grant and end up where I am today,” recalls Yasamin.

Bologna Fellowships were first introduced in 2023. Yasamin is one of two refugee students studying in Kazakhstan under this program.

Former Prisoner

The life story of Murat Smagulov is a story of transformation and a second chance. He was once a prisoner, but now lives freely and works as an electrician – a job he got thanks to the support of the probation service.

The UN and local foundations played a decisive role in its history. “After the liberation, the UN helped in resolving legal issues,” recalls Murat. Participation in social events, such as football competitions, contributed to his reintegration.

In 2018, Kazakhstan joined the global initiative of the EU and UN to work with extremist prisoners. As part of this program, 100 prisoners received support in two pilot regions – Karaganda and Pavlodar. The aim of the initiative is to contribute to their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

Director who received funding from the Venice Festival

Eldar Shibanov achieved success in cinema, receiving funding from the Venice Film Festival for his script “Mountain Bow”. He took second place in the Central Asian “script laboratory”, organized by UNESCO in Almaty.

This is the first time that a project from Central Asia has received such recognition. The premiere of the film based on this script took place in the spring of 2023.

“Thanks to the efforts of the UN, I became a director with my debut feature film, which premiered in Venice. It’s really wonderful,” says Eldar.

Read also:

Gender equality: a large-scale study by the UN and the government of Kazakhstan


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