Cholpon-Ata, which means “Venus father,” is a resort town north of the world’s second largest high altitude lake, Issyk-Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan. The town has a population of about 12,000, and has beautiful beaches.
During the time when Kyrgyzstan was part of the Soviet Union, tourism was the economic driver for Cholpon-Ata but when the Soviet Union collapsed, so did the tourism business.
Migrating to find better opportunities
Today tourism is contributing 9% to the country’s GDP and recently the government decided to make tourism a top priority development mainly because many of its citizens are leaving to find work elsewhere.
Unfortunately, there are factors preventing the growth of tourism especially in the country’s most promising tourist destination, Cholpon-Ata. These factors include lack of infrastructure, faster growth in other tourist destinations, the political support against foreign investments, corruption, and the poor reputation of Cholpon-Ata as a crime-ridden city.
Children of Cholpon-Ata
With tourism numbers dropping drastically, many shops and businesses have closed down thereby affecting the way of life. Agriculture has become the town’s primary source of income. Sadly the land is being threatened by environmental and other problems like water pollution, endangerment of flora and fauna, and the lack of police presence and law enforcement. These have made the town dangerous for children, because aside from a poor standard of living, they face risks to their lives and property.
The local government is unable to cope with the demand for support and specialists resulting in families breaking apart and children being left to fend for themselves. Common in Cholpon-Ata are sickness, large families, disability, early pregnancy, and lack of parental care.
What do we do in Cholpon-Ata?
SOS Children began its work in Cholpon-Ata in 2002 as the second site of SOS Children in Kyrgyzstan. The goal is to support vulnerable families and children.
At our Children's Village, we care for orphaned and abandoned children. Here they grow up in a loving SOS family, and are cared for by an SOS Mother. These children go to local schools until they graduate from secondary level. These young people are then supported to become independent adults, and many complete vocational training or go to college.
We have started several programmes in Cholpon-Ata that provide locals with opportunities to excel. One of the successful programmes of SOS Children is our community outreach work, which teaches parents new skills, provides counselling, and guidance on child-rearing and income generation. Some of the beneficiaries have already begun their own farms, catering business, or animal breeding. The local government acknowledges and supports our endeavours and sends families, young adults, or children to become beneficiaries of our programmes.
Children and families in Cholpon-Ata are supported to thrive through our programmes. At our Children's Village, young people are in need of a sponsor. Will you do something amazing, and become a child sponsor today?