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Doctors and children from Kazakhstan spent two weeks at Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana's camp at Happy Hollow, near Nashville, Indiana, in June 2001. The children, who had received intensive English instruction for several months prior to their visit, participated in all activities. The doctors, who speak no English but understand a bit, were accompanied by translators.
Kazakhstan Flag

Kazakhstan: A Country in Transition

Kazakhstan is a new country formed by the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. Thrown into the world economy with little political structure, uncertain employment opportunities, and an increased demand for goods and services previously supplied in the Soviet system, Kazakhstan works unendingly to create a place of its own in the world. Prior to the Soviet Era, the Kazak people were traditionally sheep herders, living in portable housing and moving through the land to graze the herd. Soviet reign moved them into cities destroying their traditional way of life. Today, some Kazaks are returning to their heritage of sheep herding and agricultural lifestyle. Others find themselves in cities with no work, no money, and no hope of economic improvement.

One major area that faces the biggest challenges is the medical climate. A serious shortage of medical supplies, medications, and current technology face the Kazak people. Although the physicians are well trained, they must rely on minimal equipment, inadequate hospital conditions, and shortages of common medicines and supplies. Diabetics, in constant need of medical supplies and attention, have the basic needs met. The government supplies all diabetics with insulin, but the availability of glucometer strips to monitor blood sugars at home is non-existent. The uncertainty of available food supplies also causes concern for a diabetic. The combination of food uncertainty and the inability to monitor blood sugars on a routine basis creates a difficult situation for diabetic children as well as adults. The Kazak medical professionals are attempting to improve the situation for diabetic patients in their country and reduce the serious complications that their people face. Any help providing glucometer strips, educational materials, or continuing education is greatly appreciated and welcomed by the Kazak people.

During the month of June, Dr. Nelya Kim, the head of Adult Endocrinology in Taraz and Dr. Roza Bitinbeyeva, the head Pediatric Endocrinologist in the Dzambyl oblast along with four diabetic children and two translators traveled to the other side of the planet from Kazakstan to Indiana to participate in a program to learn more about diabetes management. The physicians visited Riley Hospital for Children, Indiana University Medical Center, The Indiana Diabetes Center, and Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. They also spent a day at Eli Lilly, a local hospital, and a private physician's office. Meanwhile, the children enjoyed learning about how American children spend their summers. They went swimming, played miniature golf, went to the mall and King's Island Amusement Park. After 10 days of an introduction to America, the children and physicians went to the Diabetes Youth Foundation Camp at Happy Hollow in Nashville, Indiana. All expenses from Kazakhstan were paid for by Interlink Resources, a humanitarian aid organization located in Indiana. Following camp, all the Kazak guests will enjoy a trip to Chicago and the July 4th celebrations before leaving for the 2-day trip back to Kazakhstan.

The physicians and children were selected from the Diabetes Center in Taraz, Dzambyl, Kazakhstan where Interlink Resources maintains ongoing diabetes support through organizing medical conferences and clinics, as well as providing needed diabetes supplies.

For information about the program facilitated by Interlink Resources or interest in participating in a medical conference or providing diabetes supplies contact:

Dr. Corine Carr, RD, CD
Medical Director, Interlink Resources
  Map of Kazakhstan
Map of Kazakhstan. Click for a larger image.

Group Photo
The group from Kazakhstan. Click for a larger image.

Group Photo
Kids from Kazakhstan enjoyed camp. From left to right: Serik, Zarif, Nazgul, and Xenia. Click for a larger image.

Group Photo
Nazgul and Serik showed traditional Kazak dress. Click for a larger image.

Published July 4, 2001

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