Sardor, 24 y.o., Kyrgyzstan: “Please don’t be afraid of me! HIV is not so easily transmitted”

I’m 24 years old, and I have been earning a living in Russia for 9 years already.

I was born in southern Kyrgyzstan in a traditional family: my mother was taking care of three kids, and my father was a driver. They constantly quarreled, my dad was beating my mom, and later he left her for another woman. To survive and make ends meet, my mother went to Russia for work. I stayed with my grandmother until her death.

I moved to live with my father and stepmother. Living there was unbearable, and I moved to my mother, without even having finished 8th grade. A shuttle bus driver who moved migrants to Russia had a power of attorney for transporting me; I still remember three days of driving through Kazakh steppe. I was dreaming of receiving good education and becoming a surgeon, but at the time of my arrival I did not know a single word in Russian.

My mother did cleaning jobs in a village near Novosibirsk. She got married there, but I did not get along with my stepfather from the very start. Once I saw him with another woman. I was only 15 but understood everything. My mother, however, did not believe me.

I worked at a brick factory. It was very hard work – I had to get up at 4 a.m., put water and cement into a cement-mixer, mix them. But I was paid 1200 rubles per day, very good money. How did I spend my first salary? – Actually, it was not a salary, it was an advanced payment, 5000 rubles – I sent them to my grandfather asking him to make a dua (supplication)*.

On the edge of my 16th birthday, I returned to my homeland to receive a passport. I wanted to stay there longer and study to become a hairdresser, to finally be able to leave hard labor. But my mother did not support my decision, and after obtaining documents I returned to Russia, this time with my brother. We moved to a town where I worked as a bus conductor. My income depended on the number of tickets sold: if you sell 700 tickets, you get 1500 rubles. For myself, I bought only clothes and once a mobile phone; all the rest I gave to my mother. At the time we were already renting a flat.

Three years ago, I came to Moscow. I did all kinds of jobs, from sweeping the streets to cooking. Currently, I have two jobs: the mornings I work in a canteen, and then, from afternoon till late night, in delivery. As it should be, Saturday and Sunday are my days off, when I just take walks around Moscow or meet my friends in a chaikhana to eat our traditional cuisine.

I have found out my HIV status this year. In winter I had fallen sick and had my blood tested. I was told there was a suspicion of possible HIV-infection, and I knew – those were not just suspicions; I knew it was true. After that, I had two more tests, and they came positive. No, I was not afraid. I know that HIV is not fatal, I have seen a movie and a TV program about it. On the First TV channel, there is a program called “Men’s/Women’s”, and one issue was dedicated to HIV-positivity. People should not be afraid of us; HIV is not transmitted easily.

Nevertheless, I will not disclose it to my parents. This is my personal matter. They took away my childhood, and now I’m in charge of my own life.

Kyrgyzstan citizens don’t need a work permit in Russia, so testing for HIV is not obligatory. But nonetheless I recommend doing a test just to be sure, and to avoid unprotected sex.

My dream? I dream of my own house. I don’t have anything in my home country. My mother spends all her money herself, but my brother and I have almost finished saving up to buy land, so we’ll start the construction soon.


*Dua — a supplication to Allah which is used in many everyday situations. Usually, Muslims ask Allah for help when starting any new task.

Written by Ekaterina Ivashchenko

Pictures by Aleksandr Nosov

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