ASHGABAT — Turkmenistan is a small country located in the Middle East. With around 80 percent of the land classified as desert, the population is even smaller than it could be otherwise at about five million people, which is over three million less than New York City. Small nations like Turkmenistan usually end up facing problems that other, larger nations do not encounter. These issues can leave someone wondering how to help people in Turkmenistan, or nations in the same situation.
Fortunately, there are several ways to help, ranging from quick and simple actions — such as utilizing your computer to create change — to the more immersive methods of working for organizations that help the impoverished.
One such organization, UNHCR, does a great deal for the world’s less fortunate. The UNHCR, also known as the U.N. Refugee Agency, works to protect and advocate for refugees and stateless people all over the globe. Currently, there is about 65.6 million displaced people around the world — a number never seen before in terms of those forced from their homes.
For clarification, a refugee is a person forced from their home due to natural disaster, war, or persecution, so therefore not all displaced people fall into this category. Half of the world’s refugees, some 22 million people, are under the age of 18.
The problem with lacking citizenship is that these individuals are denied basic rights, like education, employment and healthcare; this is especially the case for stateless individuals.
In Turkmenistan, over 18,000 people were helped in establishing citizenship thanks to groups like the UNHCR, who work closely with government agencies and civil societies; but there are still many who need help. The number of “people of concern” is listed at 7,137 people. Over 7,000 people are classified as stateless, refugee or some other form of displacement.
For the person wondering how to help people in Turkmenistan, the UNHCR is a great place to start.
One simple way to help is by signing their Open Letter to End Statelessness, which can be done online in a few seconds (and can be found here http://www.unhcr.org/ibelong/#section-openletter). They have reached over 90,000 signatures.
There are also several ways to get involved by spreading the word. This includes five different steps (found here): sending a leaflet to raise awareness, promoting the cause on Twitter with one of their Twitter cards, sharing an informational video provided in the link, using their pre-made presentation to educate people, and organizing a public event to raise even more awareness. They also use the hashtag “#ibelong.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is the leading government agency in the fight against global poverty.
For Turkmenistan, USAID seeks to support the horticulture and livestock of the nation, as well as well as human rights, economic growth, and public health. They assist in all of these through things like creating programs to lead to more productive and safer livestock, just to give and example. Another example is the US funding of activities that improve the prevention, care and treatment of HIV and Tuberculosis.
For the individual seeking ways for how to help people in Turkmenistan, the methods vary from something as simple as following them on Facebook, providing research, and working with USAID as an intern or career. Interns for USAID can find positions in research, writing program materials, communicating about the program in field missions and much more. More can be found on internships here.
As for careers, there are a multitude of options. There are ways to work locally with USAID as well as abroad, whether as a Foreign Service Officer or any of the plethora of opportunities available on both sides of the pond. To find out more about this chance to make a difference, follow the “Types of Jobs” link on the left hand side of the listed link.
– Stephen Praytor