Looked at people in need through the eyes of a mother
In her 40 years long career with the Kazakhstan Red Crescent Shamshura Lyudmila Grigoriyevna specialized in reuniting families. Many nights she lied awake worrying about the fate of people who had lost touch with their loved ones. A tough but rewarding job, because the idea that she was able to help many of them reunite, still warms her soul.
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One of the cases Shamshura Lyudmila Grigoriyevna still remembers clearly is about a boy who lived in an orphanage in the Zhambyl region. One day Lyudmila Grigoriyevna and her colleagues received a call from the orphanage asking if they could help them find the boy’s father. The only thing they knew was that he lived in Germany. The Red Crescent send a request to Germany, hoping that that would be enough. Sooner than expected they received an answer: a letter with a death certificate. The father had died, but the boy’s uncle and aunt were willing and happy to take him into their home. A visa was requested at the German Embassy, but the Embassy didn’t seem willing to grant it to him. Luckily, with the help of the German Red Cross the little boy eventually got his papers. A year after the first phone call the boy stepped on to a plane to bring him to his new home. Years later Lyudmila Grigoriyevna was reminded of this story when the now grown-up boy told his story on television and thanked the Red Crescent for their help. He now lives and works in Germany.

“How did people live like that? I still don’t know”

– Shamshura Lyudmila Grigoriyevna, Kazakhstan

During the years, the Kazakhstan Red Crescent played a vital part in connecting family members with each other during the wars in Afghanistan, Croatia and Abkhazia. These years made a great impact on Lyudmila Grigoriyevna. The only way that family members who were separated from each other could communicate across borders, was through the messages from the local Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. Lyudmila Grigoriyevna was one of the heroines who helped getting these messages to the right families. “When the letters came, you could only cry. How did people live like that? I still don’t know”, Lyudmila Grigoriyevna recalls.

Lyudmila Grigoriyevna is sure that the female essence played a significant role in the perception of her work. The woman’s nature gave her strength to look at people in need through the eyes of a mother, daughter and sister. The maternal instinct did not allow her to cover her heart with indifference. Even after many years working with family reunion, every separation, uncertainty and despair still felt as painful and worrisome as the first one she ever worked with.

Lyudmila Grigoriyevna retired from the Red Cross in December 2018. The last years she worked as the RFL program coordinator of the international cooperation department. She calls young women within the Movement to help people in any case. Her wishes are sincere and simple: cherish family ties and preserve humanity.

Shamshura Lyudmila Grigoriyevna

Kazakhstan, 1979

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7 young women for every 10 young men complete upper secondary school in low-income countries. If we want more future female leaders, we need to close the gender gap in education.

– UN Women

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