Few people are aware about, much less invested in, the dry and cold mountain frontier of Naryn Province in southern Kyrgyzstan. Ages ago, Naryn was an artery of the Silk Road; today the few visitors to the province are likely only driving down A365 Highway that connects Kyrgyzstan to China through the Torugart Pass. Considered the poorest region in Kyrgyzstan, the Soviets were unsuccessful in their attempt to turn Naryn’s livestock-based economy into a center for large-scale mining. While this meant the awe-inspiring landscape was preserved, Naryn remained ignored by the global economy.
Yet, thanks to your faithful support, Covenant World Relief has been present in this beautiful corner of Central Asia. For the past two years, we have supported the Balyk Too Cooperative in their Animal Loan Program.
The purpose of the program is to provide the poor, young families of Naryn Valley with the resources and knowledge to start their own livestock herds. With responsibility taken into their own hands, about three-quarters of these families are successful in maintaining and expanding their own herds – sometimes to numbers as large as fifty or seventy.
Interfaith relations have been mended in the predominately Muslim communities where the animal loan program has been active. In places where the misbelief that Christians are the enemy has spread, the director of the project is public about his Christian faith. Through compassion, he has replaced hostility with trust.
With funds provided by Covenant World Relief, about 160 sheep were purchased for the project. 50 of these sheep were given to new families so that they could start their own herds. The other 110 sheep were put into a village cooperative to act as a central breeding herd.
Our partner has reported:
“The future of this project is to become self-sustaining with the central breeding herd continuously feeding the project with new animals. Our hope is also that the program will grow from within as new leadership (committees of young men) is established in additional villages. If opportunities allow, we would like to expand the model for this project into other regions.”
We are optimistic that the animal loan project will become self-sustaining and independent of our financial support. Join with us in keeping Naryn in our thoughts and prayers as, through our Kyrgyz friends, our faithful God’s mission continues to unfold in this seemingly forgotten part of the world.