[English] Interview with Meerim Omurzakova – one participant in the initiative with Novi Ritm

Featured image: Meerim Omurzakova, second from the right, with Novi Ritm volunteers.

Since 2013, Central Asia Solidarity Groups and Novi Ritm have been working together to empower youth, particularly girls and women, in southern Kyrgyzstan. Our shared aim is that the local youth is well-informed about their rights and actively engage in the protection of human rights. This participations is seen as a vital component for cultivating a democratic and inclusive civil society at all levels.

Novi Ritm has a mentorship program designed to forge connections between experienced individuals with prior engagement in the organization’s activities and volunteers newly a part of  Novi Ritm. Mentors guide and share their experiences and knowledge with the newcomers, fostering the growth of future human rights advocates in Osh. 

In our conversation with Meerim Omurzakova, one of the mentors of the 2023 program, we discuss her experience with Novi Ritm.

Hi Meerim! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m 16 years old, and in my last year of school. I live in Osh, and I have been involved in volunteering for different organizations in the city. I am currently preparing for my final exams and considering media and communications for my future studies. I love reading, and lately, I’ve also developed a keen interest in IT. 

How long have you been involved with Novi Ritm? 

I first joined Novi Ritm in 2021, after attending their annual conference designed for girls. Following that event, I started actively participating in all subsequent Novi Ritm activities. In 2022, I became a volunteer and took on mentoring the following year.

Why did you decide to participate in the mentorship program? 

I chose to become a mentor because I wanted to contribute to the work of Novi Ritm. Novi Ritm is a place where I find support and can bring my initiatives to life. The organization plays a key role in youth development and responding to complex situations, especially in advocating for women and young people’s rights. They empower teenagers, enabling them to realize their potential and become active members of society. Without Novi Ritm, many young people would remain unseen, unaware of their worth and rights. I believe that supporting this work benefits not only me, but our society as a whole.

My decision to join the mentorship program was also motivated by the support I received from my own mentor during my time as a volunteer. Her guidance was very helpful in adapting to the work of Novi Ritm, and it made me eager to help others in a similar way. 

How was your experience working with the volunteers?

I guided four volunteers across two initiatives — a human rights program and a movie club. It was challenging initially, given the diversity among the volunteers, but through communication and many discussions, we found common ground. This experience significantly improved my communication skills. 

During the program, there was a lot of knowledge and experience exchange. The volunteers played a significant role in my growth, just as I believe I contributed to theirs. This experience has also taught me the depth of responsibility. While I considered myself a leader before, mentoring peers of similar or even greater age than me, and working alongside the staff of Novi Ritm, provided an opportunity to handle a whole new level of responsibility. 

Why do you see the mentorship program as beneficial?

I saw how mentoring helped ease the volunteers into their roles. Starting your journey as a volunteer can be difficult and overwhelming, and having a mentor makes the entry much smoother. Mentors understand the challenges volunteers face because they’ve experienced them firsthand. As for mentors, the program provides them with a new perspective and experiences that can contribute to career growth, as it helps enhance leadership and teamwork skills. 

What impact has working with Novi Ritm had on you?

It’s soon going to be three years since I’ve been actively engaging in Novi Ritm’s events and projects, and I sincerely affirm that I’ve become a part of this organization and grown as an individual. Novi Ritm has had a profound impact on me, helping to shape and structure my values, such as justice, sisterhood, and self-development. These principles are now an integral part of my life, and I intend to uphold them throughout my life. The organization not only provided me with opportunities to engage in diverse projects like volunteering and mentoring, but also helped me realize my potential and taught me how to apply these values in my daily life. Novi Ritm hasn’t just been an experience; I’ve gained valuable tools for long-term development and achieving my goals. I take pride in my involvement with this organization. 

Follow the pages below for more updates about our collaboration with Novi Ritm:

Learn more about how you can support our work in Central Asia here.