Everywhere AKF works we meet community-minded individuals who are strengthening the fabric of civil society. These community weavers are unsung heroes who volunteer their time and expertise, mobilise others, and bring diverse groups together to bring about transformative change within their communities.
This work is local, often challenging, and frequently goes unheralded. Yet the efforts of community weavers form the foundation for so much of what AKF is able to achieve. They are the leaders and members of a network of more than 50,000 civil society organisations we partner with, ensuring our impact is responsive to community needs and aspirations.
Each month throughout 2024, we will be sharing the stories of community weavers from around the world who are bridging and bettering their communities.
This is Maksat’s story.
My name is Maksat Temirbaev and I live in the city of Kok-Jangak in central Kyrgyz Republic. At 28 years old, I am a youth leader at the Centre for Children & Art. I recently became the vice-speaker of the local city council and am very much involved in addressing the social and political issues of my hometown.
My journey has not been easy. I was born into a large family; I have a brother and three sisters. When I was a teenager, my parents were forced to leave home and find work in Russia, so my grandmother took care of me and my siblings. Despite the challenges that I have faced, I am determined to create positive change for my family and my community.
“Despite the challenges that I have faced, I am determined to create positive change for my family and my community.”
In 2016, I earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration before serving in the Kyrgyz Republic Border Guard Service. Following my service, I applied for jobs in the Civil Service but was rejected as I didn’t have enough professional experience. I needed to support my family, so, like my parents, I migrated to Russia in search of more opportunities. While I was away, I always thought of home – I came up with lots of ideas about how to change the lives of people in my hometown.
As part of the project, I identified two main issues that were significantly affecting our city. The first was to find a way to resolve the daily conflicts that were happening between people in the community because of stray cattle, horses, and sheep – which eat saplings and grass – disrupting traffic and spoiling green areas.
I worked with local activists to develop a resolution document so that I could raise the issue with Kok-Jangkak‘s city council. The document was quickly approved and led to the passing of new regulations to control where animals can graze, where vehicles can go, and where pedestrians can walk. Now, there very little conflict in the community and the land is in better condition.
The second challenge was the derelict condition Kok–Jangak’s central park – it was in a bad state and had been for some time. There are not many public recreation areas in our city, so we wanted to rehabilitate the park for our community.
Thanks to our advocacy efforts, restoration work finally began in 2021 with support from the government and USAID. It is now a fully renovated, landscaped recreation area, with paved walkways, CCTV, public restrooms, a playground, and a workout facility. The city has also opened a women’s choreography centre in the park, where women and girls can learn the art of dance and have a safe space to socialise.
Through these experiences, I have learnt a lot and built confidence in my ability to understand and solve problems. Community-building projects have had a great impact in our country, and I have seen many young people like me become leaders in their communities. In my city, youth crime has reduced, indicating that change is happening for the better.
As a local activist, I am determined to inspire youth to contribute to Kyrgyz Republic’s socio-economic development. We, the creative and passionate generation can change our country. We must act, we must rebuild, we must improve, and we must educate others to do so. We can do it!