A single 24 year old woman in Public Health wrote how corruption has negatively impacted the health professions: “One of the reforms that failed in my opinion was the decision of the [Kazakh] government to abolish the pay services in the state medical establishments. That breeds such negative factors like extortion and corruption among medical workers. I think that in the conditions of the developing market economy pay-free medicine is not actual any more. In the state medicine establishments, where the services are free, the quality of the services is the first to suffer. If the patient wants to get high quality medical help and attentive attitude from the personnel, he must “persuade” the doctor personally. I am convinced about it not only on the example of my own family while getting medical help…but the other patients suffered financial expenses (they bought bandages, injectors, medicaments, they gave gifts)”
While the above woman in Public Health saw abuses towards her family regarding medical care, a 29 year old married man in environmental studies wrote about his concern for his family and the damaged environment they live in in Kazakhstan. “I would like to work in the Ministry of Environmental Protection. I cannot be indifferent to the situation in my country. I have a family, my son and my parents who live here. And I don’t want rocket heptyl or other industrial contamination influences in their health.”
Another 23 year old single male in law had this to write about his family from humble origins: “I desire to glorify my family’s name. The fact is that I am the first to take higher education in my family. My father is an ordinary taxi driver and my mother is a housewife. Notwithstanding that my parents did not take higher education, they did their best to ensure that my younger brother and I were well educated, respectful and worthy citizens of Kazakhstan. Due to my parents’ all around support, I have achieved many accomplishments. Accordingly, one of the reasons to study in the US is the justification of the hopes of my parents.”
Another ambitious 26 year old single female economist was a good problem solver and discovered something about her leadership abilities when she didn’t rely on her parents’ support: “Once I lost my purse with the money for my one month living. I was a student at that time and was supported by my parents. My action to solve the problem was not to call my parents, asking to send me additional means for living but the announcement in the newspaper about giving English language lessons. This way I got my first earnings and assurance that I can provide for myself.”
How difficult for us, as westerners, to understand that giving bribes and experiencing corruption are a commonplace occurrence with the typical Kazakh family. Who you know and not what you know is important in order to survive in the steppes of Kazakhstan.