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Bundles Of Joy And Food

Zamira's WFP ration of will help her six children stay fed and healthy this winter. Photo: WFP/Elizabeth Zalkind

When Zamira Suyunalieva adopted new-born Ariet who was left at her door, she was already struggling to feed her own children. But on a cold, sunny day in the small village of Kyrk-Kazyk no one seemed happier than Zamira as she brought home a ration of food staples. She knew that her six children will stay fed and healthy throughout the freezing winter.

Kyrk-Kazyk, KYRGYZSTAN – Zamira, thin and worn out from a lifetime of hardship, was overjoyed after receiving such critical relief only a few months after making the life-changing decision of taking in Ariet. 

“My relatives and neighbours condemned my decision to adopt another child while I have to struggle to nurture my own children, but I confidently replied to all the criticism, saying that if God sends you a challenge you should accept it as he never challenges you without a recoupment,” said Zamira as she brought home her ration of 75 kg of fortified wheat flour and six litres of vitamin-enriched vegetable oil. “And you see I’m not left alone as I receive this food relief to support my family.”

Zamira’s household easily met all of WFP’s vulnerability criteria and was selected for WFP winter food assistance that started last December. The winter food assistance is intended to help people like her get through the harsh winter months when plummeting temperatures and few work opportunities keep many impoverished rural families at the edge of survival. 

With only three skinny hens and a small plot of land the local authorities allocated to her, Zamira understood that mere surviving would become a challenge. Her meagre property does not offer her much; the bean and potato harvest she collects from her small piece of land is barely enough to feed her large household.  

“The land can produce more but there is no one to tend to it,” sobs Zamira. “It’s only me doing all the field work as my oldest daughter, a 15-year old teen, has to care for the rest of the children”. One of Zamira’s children is mentally disabled and needs constant watching.

Although the local authorities helped Zamira sign up for the state social support scheme, the monthly benefits she receives to feed her children totals less than 1,240 soms per month (about US$30). For a family of seven, this is far below the minimum subsistence level of 370 soms per person per month (about US$8) as calculated by the Ministry of Social Development. 

This January, WFP provided a lifeline to over 231,000 people in the country, who were not able to stock enough food to make it through the winter due to poor harvests and surging food prices.