NAZIK KYZ, TENDER GIRL
Aiperi was 9 years old when she had to leave her school.
Like tens of thousands of other disabled Kyrgyzstani children, Aiperi’s access to education had been challenged by too many psychological and physical obstacles. This made her very upset and for a long time after that, she hated schools, books, and anything related to it.
Although Aiperi didn’t know how to read or write very well, at the age of 18 she joined a disabled persons’ organization called Nazik Kyz, which means Tender Girl in the Kyrgyz Language.
“I had realized that inaccessibility is a major barrier that prevents people with disabilities from actively participating in social and economic activities in Kyrgyzstan. I joined Nazik Kyz because I believe that together, we women with disabilities can contribute to building an inclusive environment.”
Alongside other women in Nazik Kyz, over the years Aiperi became increasingly active in addressing the social divides and stereotypes that negatively impact the rights of women with disabilities across the country.
Anyone who meets Aiperi would agree that she has a tremendous amount of positive energy, something she uses to lead and inspire others. She often finds herself in the role of a motivational speaker, and she is very engaged with other youth to help with community mobilization and advocacy.
FOR A BARRIER-FREE WORLD
In Bishkek, accessibility can be a serious challenge for Aiperi, who usually plans her travel a couple days in advance to make sure the streets and places she must visit will allow her to move around.
As a part of her Jiger Kyzdar project, Aiperi painstakingly travels across the city to carefully examine the accessibility of public places and buildings. She uses this information to create an accessibility map for people with disabilities.
A little while ago, Aiperi’s story and project were noticed by a popular Kyrgyzstani news agency.
Together they came up with a kind of social experiment that Aiperi sometimes do after work. The idea is to directly engage car owners who improperly park their cars in a way that can reduce people with disabilities’ capacity to travel in the city.
When Aiperi finds a vehicle illegally parked on a pedestrian crossing, she leaves a note with her phone number:
“Sorry, I scratched your car. Please call me and I will pay for the repair”.
Most of the time, car owners call her. Aiperi then explains that there are no scratches at all but explains that their action has concrete impacts for people with disabilities.
TOWARDS A BRIGHT FUTURE
Aiperi’s commitment to people with disabilities is not confined to the issue of accessibility and civic participation. She is now quickly catching up on her education and hopes to get her high school degree soon and then go on to university to study psychology.
I want to become a psychologist and assist other people with disabilities to overcome their internal and external barriers. This is my future, a future that is stable, where I can do anything and go anywhere I want!