Astana, Kazakhstan : Through a state programme, the Government of Kazakhstan is making efforts to encourage the repatriation of ethnic Kazakhs from abroad. The integration of repatriates into society is a challenge due to language and cultural barriers, lack of basic resources and legal and social support.
Since March 2010, Nurbakhit Atan, national United Nations Volunteer serving as UNV Community Exchange Worker, has been working in the United Nations Development Programme/UNV project Promoting Social and Economic Integration of Oralman (Repatriates) activities in the Ulan district of East Kazakhstan Province.
A former repatriate himself, Nurbakhit understands the integration problems faced by fellow repatriates. He advised more than 500 repatriates on diverse issues, organized workshops and trainings for NGO members, conducted joint volunteer actions, and helped prepare 20 social proposals for small grant programmes in the Ulan district.
Mobilizing local volunteers, Nurbakhit helped implement projects to provide the Sagir community in Ulan with drinking water by cleaning a 5-km-long canal used to irrigate more than 100 hectares of sowing land. Thanks to Nurbakhit and the efforts of members of the local NGO Shighis qirani, more than 40 repatriates volunteered to clean this canal.
The lack of clean water for irrigation created difficulties in the growing of agricultural crops. The canal now irrigates the lands of Sagir and the Mamay villages of the Ulan district, where over 50 oralman (repatriate) families live. The restoration of old canals is vital for the improvement of economic conditions in the villages, since the sale of agricultural products is one of the main sources of income for the local population.
UN Volunteer Nurbakhit Atan also organized seven Kazakh and Russian language and computer literacy courses in three of the districts communities, reaching more than 120 repatriates. Those who were trained greatly valued these courses as they proved particularly helpful when filling official documents and applying for jobs.
Nurbakhits past experience as a Public Advisor for the Mayor of the Ulan district played an important role in the efficient implementation and coordination of the UNDP/UNV project activities at district level, as he is treated with great honour and respect by repatriates and district authorities.
Under a government programme, the new town of Novoyavlenka has recently been built near the Ulan district, with more than 300 houses for repatriates. Nurbakhit Atan has been designated Akim (mayor) of this newly built town by the province authorities.
Nurbakhit and his family had a chance to become one of the first settlers of the new town. Recently, the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, made a visit to this modern town and to Nurbakhits family. The president heard about the social and living conditions of ethnic Kazakh repatriates in the province, and expressed his satisfaction with the activities carried out and the construction works in the modern town.
The success story of Nurbakhit Atan is not a single one. UNDP and UNV emphasize how the right attitude, ones own initiative and trust for the future positively impact the process of the oralmans adaptation and integration into Kazak society.