Stop TB Partnership

It is impossible to defeat tuberculosis without the support of people

"It is impossible to defeat tuberculosis without the support of people," Gulnara Lvova believes

"The most terrible feeling that I have experienced in my life is loneliness. It is more terrible than any disease, even tuberculosis. It is only people’s empathy and help that sets you up to change for the better and strengthen your faith in tomorrow's happy day."

As a Russian citizen Gulnara could not imagine that she would become a migrant... Everything in life was good and planned: study, then work and, finally, a family. What else does a woman need for happiness? She decided to go with her husband to visit relatives in Taldykorgan, in Kazakhstan. Their relatives had been inviting them for a long time. At first the trip was quite successful; Gulnara liked everything: the beauty of the mountains, the abundance of fruits, the hospitality of relatives... But in one instant, all this faded. Her husband announced a divorce, said that he had met with another woman.

So, Gulnara was left alone in a foreign country. Alone with her shame, it seemed to her. And so, she decided not to return home. She thought everything would be organized, she would finally calm down, leave Taldykorgan, and return home. As time went by, she found a job, rented an apartment, her resentment gradually began to recede, in its place came the confidence and hope that everything would work out.

For almost seven years Gulnara lived and worked in the southern, sun-drenched and apple-growing city. She had gotten used to a new way of life. But one day she discovered that her purse and documents were missing. Fear of deportation did not allow them to be restored. Life had changed dramatically. She had to hide from the police, had to take casual employment, agree to any work.

"I was sent to a special detention center for people without a fixed place of residence. And then I felt that I was sick. There was a cough, constant weakness, at night - sweat. I feared - what if this is tuberculosis? I did not know what to do, whom to ask for help. Until I met Banu and Marina."

Banu Kalmagambetova and Marina Yelchaninova were employees of the "Taldykorgan Regional Employment Support Fund". Since July 2015, the project "Safety Route - Measures aimed at cross-border control and treatment of TB, MDR-TB and TB/HIV among labor migrants" has been implemented by Project HOPE within the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria framework. In this region, it is run by the Taldykorgan fund. The main objective of the project is to improve access to TB quality diagnostic and treatment services by labor migrants, reduce stigma, create demand for and increase access to patient-friendly medical and social services.

Employees of the fund helped Gulnara get a free TB screening test. Her fears were confirmed - doctors diagnosed this disease. Gulnara was even more upset, she cried, because in the city there was not a single soul-mate who would come to the rescue in such a situation.

Employees of the Taldykorgan Fund were always there. They helped to put her on treatment in a TB dispensary, explained that this insidious disease must be treated for a long time; if treatment is interrupted, the disease takes a worse form, which is harder to overcome - both more difficult and longer. The main thing that Gulnara understood, thanks to the public and medical specialists, was that tuberculosis is not a death sentence, and she will be cured. This gave her strength, she was determined to recover.

"The feeling that I was not alone in my misfortune made me feel better. Nearby were responsive, empathetic people, for whom mercy is not an empty sound. These people not only comforted and urged me to take vital drugs and procedures, but also constantly encouraged me for a positive result. And this is very important for recovery."

Employees of the Taldykorgan Fund helped her to write an application for the restoration of documents to the International Organization for Migration. Within five months, she was provided with basic necessities.

Six months later, Gulnara was transferred to free outpatient treatment. Now she comes to the city polyclinic for medicines and also receives a motivational food package. She does not feel alone. Strength returns, with optimism and confidence in the future. Work on restoring documents is a lengthy process. But she is ready to wait. After all, without documents, she could again be in a special detention center.

"Within the framework of the Project HOPE grant for 2016, the employees and volunteers of our public fund helped 898 migrant workers to receive TB tests. For 25 of them the diagnosis was confirmed, and with our assistance people could get treatment free of charge. Labor migrants also receive motivational food packages. 8,312 labor migrants received information about the signs of tuberculosis and know where to turn to if they fall ill," says Svetlana Saduakasova, director of the Taldykorgan Regional Employment Support Fund.