"I knew that someday I would get my family back". The story of Timur

(Names changed to protect identities)
My name is Timur, and this is a story about me and my family.

My dad left for Russia to work in 2011, and since then, I have not seen him again. After my dad left, my mom found it difficult to raise me and my two brothers all by herself. We lived in our grandparents’ house, but they were seriously ill and later died.

I needed leg surgery because of a burn I got when I was little, and my brother had been infected with TB. We had no money. We had nothing to eat, and my mom had to separate us. My 9-year-old brother was taken away to a boarding school for tuberculosis patients, and I was sent to the Mehribonlik orphanage.

I was 10 years old when I first arrived at the orphanage. I was treated well there. I made friends and after a month I got used to the new place and the new environment. However, I missed my mom and brothers a lot.

We were well fed over there, I even had my own bed. I made friends and attended classes. However, Mom rarely visited me because she was working far away. She got 40,000 sums a day for washing dishes in a canteen, but dad did not send us any money at all. Mom cried a lot; she missed us a lot, since we had always lived together.

During those two years, my elder brother Azam lived with my aunt. At the age of 16, he started to earn money during the summer holidays, but this was not enough to help our mother. We were growing and our clothes were getting small. We needed a home to live together again.

Now things have changed. Today is my twelfth birthday. I'm an adult now. Mom took me and my brother back from boarding school. We were given some land and now we are building a three-room house. We only have to finish building the roof, floor, and ceiling. My mom, my brothers and I are temporarily living at my uncle’s house. The government helped me to have my leg surgery in Germany and now I am feeling better. Mom works, and Azam works part-time loading goods at our aunt's store after school. He has begun to communicate with dad once a month, but it is still not enough.

During the quarantine, we are studying at home by watching lessons on TV, and my aunt is helping us with our homework. UNICEF brought us pens, notebooks, educational books, and games to cheer us up during this difficult time. Our local community committee sometimes collects money, food and clothing for us. My mom has become more confident and happier since we started to live together again.

My younger brother and I dream of finishing school and entering college. I want to become a doctor, and my brother wants to be in the military. My elder brother Azam wants to become an entrepreneur and help our family and mom dreams of creating a comfortable new home as soon as possible.

However, my brothers and I have an even more important dream which we are not able to achieve. We want our parents to be together again and never leave us. However, the love and harmony we have in our family is a strength that neither boarding school nor poverty can destroy. We have gone through many difficulties and are now reunited to continue our life's journey together.

After the labour migration of parents, family ties can break. Children can suffer from a lack of love and care from relatives, from loneliness, or they might have to start working at an early age to support their families. Fortunately, thanks to the cooperation and combined efforts of the community, the local city hall, and social workers, Timur's family was reunited. Now he is on his way to making his dreams come true.

The story of Timur illustrates work carried out within the framework of the interregional project “Protecting children affected by migration in Southeast, South and Central Asia”, funded by the European Union and UNICEF.

UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Children’s Fund