Frigid Kazakh Nights: Oh Mercy, Where Art Though!

April 20, 2010

I’ve been meaning to write a blog entry for a while now but just haven’t had the time. Instead I am posting a story I had to write for UNICEF Kazakhstan as part of the Child Abandonment project that I’m currently involved in.

To give you a tinsy bit of context, in any project, there is the technical part that talks about the methodologies and analytical approaches and what not and there is also the more personal part that depicts the stories of personally affected individuals. Those stories are added to accentuate the human element of the otherwise cold and detached reports and remind the people reading them of why they should care. They call them “Human-Interest Stories”. (Which I thought was a fascinating title to designate to the horror stories usually discussed in those ‘Human-interest’ stories and one that is just begging for someone to ridicule humanity’s unscrupluous scruples-exploting scruples).

But anyways. Without further ado, I sincerely hope you do not enjoy this.
*

A five-days-old baby, was found abandoned near a garbage dump on Zhamankulova street, with nothing to protect him against the freezing winter night (-15 degree) but a shoddy polyester bag posing for a blanket.

On 28th of December 2009, an anonymous woman called the local police station reporting the incident. Soon afterwards the child was collected and transported to the State Children’s Hospital.

The newly-born’s tiny face, hands and feet were tinged with a deep and deathly blue. Though no one knows exactly how long he has been helplessly lying there, it must have been a while for the cold had managed to drop his body temperature to the unsettlingly low number of 34.4 degrees.

Nurzhigit Makenov, the Deputy Chief doctor on clinical work, was puzzled when he saw the baby. Other than that he almost froze to death, the baby was in healthy condition: no abnormalities, normal weight. Children’s poor health conditions are one of the popular causes prompting parents to abandon their children hence the doctor’s puzzlement. He found it hard to understand why the parent had abandoned her child.

A few days later the story unravelled as the police found the person who committed the heinous act. It was the mother. The 18-year-old mother. She was born in Kyzylorda, but lived in a rented apartment in Aktobe. After checking out of the hospital, the mother unwrapped her newly born from his baby-blanket, set him on the filthy frost-bound ground and walked away. According to her, she watched her child for about an hour, waiting for someone to pick him up, until finally she gave up and walked away for good.

During the trial, the young mother explained that when her boyfriend found that she was pregnant, he gave her five thousand Tenge and told her to “solve this problem”. She continued saying that she planned on taking the child to a child care facility, but just didn’t know where to find one.

Nothing else has been revealed about the father and whether he knew about his child’s fate. Nor has anything been revealed about the young mother’s parents and the role they played in this tragedy other than that they continued to live in Kyzylorda and did not even attend their daughter’s trial.

As a final, desperate recourse, the young mother openly lamented her ignominious crime.

The court sentenced her to a total of 180 hours of community service. The young mother will be sweeping the city streets for four hours a day on work days i.e. a month and half of street-sweeping, weekends excluded, was seen as the apposite correctional penalty for the crime committed.

The five-days-old baby survived, after extensive efforts on the part of the State Hospital, and has miraculously regained his health. What is to become of him, however, is yet to be discovered.

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