“How should we breath when we are doing these? She asked.” Kushtar translates one of the women’s questions. I look around the room to find where the question originated. “Great question…” I couldn’t decide what made me more proud- the fact that the women had pieced together “sports clothes” for the session on Exercising at Home or the fact that they were asking questions to make sure they did each of the stretches and exercises correctly. Probably a combination of both interest and effort, I could tell that these women really cared about becoming more knowledgeable and learning how to live a more healthy lifestyle. At 4 o clock on Thursday afternoons, our “Young Mom’s Club” gathers in either a well lighted classroom or a not so well lighted wrestling room that smells like feet to learn about nutrition, fitness, and some other gender related issues.
A problem for people living in the village, especially younger wives who do not get the opportunity to leave the village much, is a lack of information. Most women living in the village will move through their obligatory daily routines almost robotically and rarely stray from that simple routine. I touched on this idea in one of my earlier blogs regarding the demanding life of a village mother. Cooking and cleaning are performed every day and are not as easy of tasks as we know them to be in the States with Western conveniences. Kyrgyz village women are thorough cleaners and they cook everything from scratch- usually making the act of cooking a several hour-long affair. It is no wonder why they rotate through 3-4 basic meals which they know how to make better than the details of their own face- something we Western women know very little of.
Mom’s Club is a chance for some of these women to break out of their normal daily routines and explore something different and really, a chance for them to gain information they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. I speak about the importance of stretching or eating portions from the basic food groups and these women look at me in amazement and busily write notes in their copybooks like it’s the first time they’ve heard some of these things- and for some of them it is the first. I ask them if they think that walking is an exercise and many of them answered no. It’s so normal for them to walk across the village to go guesting or down the street to get water that they don’t even know they are exercising. Every word I speak might as well be gold dripping from my lips for these women- they’re so eager to gain information and all they want is more handouts so that they can share this new information with others.
The first week of the club we made apple carrot bread for the women. I was worried that the women wouldn’t love our snacks because they are so different than what they eat on a daily basis. A few of them practically ate their piece in one bite and others took one little mouse-sized bite and set it back down on the napkin. “You win some, you lose some.” I thought to myself. The next day I was speaking to my Counterpart, Kushtar, “It’s too bad some of the women didn’t like the snack… should we make something that’s closer to Kyrgyz food so that they will enjoy it and maybe even make it for their own family?” I asked her. “What!?” She exclaimed. “The women loved the snack! Some of them even only took one bite so they could take the rest home to share with their children.” I laughed to myself and realized that I was only beginning to understand these women. They come to the club because it’s interesting for them, yes. But really, they are coming to gain new information for their children, to be better mothers and wives and women. Really looking forward to the next seven weeks with this group of women. :)