One day we tumbled upon Kyrgyzstan, a landlocked and pristine country in Central Asia where time seems to have forgotten to move forward for centuries. Most of the land in Kyrgyzstan (80%) are dominated by mountains, forming a majestic landscape. These mountains are also imposing barriers, isolating a nation once hosted the legendary Silk Road.
A third of the population is between 15 and 25 years old but instead of youthful energy and hope we often found destitute and despair. Almost half of the children are living in poverty and seclusion. The economic hardships worsen by the pandemic spur a drastic increase in suicide rate among young Kyrgyz.
As we slowly emerge from the world-wide shelter-in-place with measured relief, almost half the Kyrgyz students our ages will remain in isolation for most of their lives, unless we reach out. Driven by our innate instinct to converge during disaster to help each other, we cofound Beyond the Mountains, a peer-to-peer platform teaching English as foreign language through social interactions and cultural immersions between high school students from Kyrgyzstan and the U.S.
On February 24th, 2022, missiles and bombs rained down indiscriminately on Ukraine, igniting a humanitarian catastrophe. With the help of our colleagues in Kyiv, we immediately modified BMP to timely extend our service to the fast-growing Ukrainian refugee communities.