The way to a heart: Maftuna's story

“My name is Maftuna and I am 14. Mom left me to go Russia when I was one year old and my father left after some time as well. Since that, I have been living in my grandparent's house with my uncle, aunt, and their kids."

UNICEF Uzbekistan
Мафтуна во дворе своего двора
UNICEF Uzbekistan/2021
02 September 2021
(Name changed to protect identity)

“My name is Maftuna and I am 14. Mom left me to go to Russia when I was one year old and my father left after some time as well. Since that, I have been living in my grandparent's house with my uncle, aunt, and their kids. I struggled a lot. They did not accept and treat me the way I wanted, so I had a long way to win the hearts of my family.

I craved attention and love, but instead, I was only being punished. I realized that I am not a part of this family. Only my grandmother has been treating me as her own daughter until COVID-19 took her away from us. The caring heart stopped beating forever. I was broken.

Soon we ran out of money since my aunt and uncle had to leave work due to a pandemic. I have never known the feeling of being full, therefore the lack of money did not affect me much.

I grew up, and still couldn't find myself, my real house, so I often ran away from home, in search of emotions and feelings, which I missed so much.

One day, I told my teacher that I want to leave this world for good. My teacher immediately introduced me to a social worker which made me see a school psychologist. My teacher, social worker, and psychologist have been constantly working with me throughout the year. The social worker has been explaining to my aunt and uncle the importance of giving attention and support to me. She also motivated my uncle to expand our house, so he started building new rooms for us. My aunts’ heart melted, and she started listening and supporting me a lot. And so did my uncle.

… I finally found my inner peace and stopped running away from home. Thanks to the social worker and school psychologist I found a way to the hearts of my loved ones. The way, that I will never lose again…”

Социальный работник общается с Мафтуной
UNICEF Uzbekistan/2021

Maftuna is one of the girls, who was supported by the project ‘Protecting children affected by migration in the South-East, South and Central Asia’, funded by the European Union and UNICEF.

The Makhalla Committee and the district administration have been providing financial support to the family on a monthly basis when caregivers lost their jobs. With the support of the project, social workers could invest additional time in helping the uncle obtain official custody of Maftuna, which will ensure that she can enjoy all her rights. This also further strengthened their family ties.

Maftuna dreams to become a hairdresser and is planning to enroll in courses, after completing high school. A social worker advised her to learn to sew clothes for herself and her family, and also to make money in her free time.