TRAVELING KYRGYZSTAN

The blog of 10 photojournalism students, a professor and a special adviser traveling for three weeks reporting on issues throughout Kyrgyzstan.

Brianna and I have been working on this homeless in Bishkek story for over two weeks. 

Since the first post, we have taken a pretty sizable gap in time to think about how we wanted to post our next topic. 

There are three basic parts to our story: street living, lack of medical care and rehabilitation. This post will be from the medical side of our story. 

Although Kyrgyzstan does provide health care coverage, it only provides it to people with “documents.” Most of the homeless have lost theirs and are therefore, ineligible for government assisted care. 

Because of this, they are reluctant to go to hospitals and are often turned away. The hospitals, most of which are privately owned, don’t want to spend money on people who can’t pay for medicine and services. 

But there are people making a difference.

At Fountain of Life in Bishkek, Azamat and Uulkan roam the streets to find homeless people in need of medical help. We followed them around when they found Natasha and Artur who were living in a concrete hole. Natasha’s feet were frost-bitten and Azamat and Uulkan were able to secure an ambulance to take her to the hospital and pay for her care. 

At Fountain of Life, they provide meals three days a week for the homeless and medical care from volunteer doctors. The people come in with a wide range of issues. Some have been beaten by police or other homeless people and have their skulls cracked open. Others have frost-bitten hands and feet. 

The work these people do to help those in need is nothing short of heroic. The above images come from The Fountain of Life, the hospital and the concrete hole. It’s tough to see these things happen to people and not want to immediately start helping yourself. 

- Patrick

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