helping beloved babushkas

babushka alexandraIntrepid group leaders in Russia are sponsoring two babushkas (grandmothers) in Kyrgyzstan this year. Pensions in this region are inadequate and ‘babushka adoption’ enables these vulnerable women to meet their financial needs. Our adopted babushkas, Alexandra and Nina, look forward to visits from Trans-Asia Express groups when they are in Bishkek.

Alexandra, eighty, was born in Kyrgyzstan, attended school for seven years and then worked on a collective farm. She was married in the village and gave birth to one daughter. After becoming divorced, Alexandra moved to Bishkek in 1953 and started working as a seamstress in “Kirgiziya” factory. She was promoted to a tailor and then a manager and worked for forty-three years.

Alexandra currently lives alone, and unfortunately does not have contact with her daughter who moved to Russia.

Nina, seventy-five, was born in Kamchatka province of Eastern Russia. In 1937 her family moved to Kazakhstan, where she finished school and entered medical college. She had four children, but sadly all died. From the age of twenty-two, Nina worked as a medical assistant at a hospital, sanitation centre and first-aid station. In 1975 she moved to Bishkek and started working at the municipal hospital.

At the moment Nina lives alone, and does not have any husband or relatives to support her. She suffers from high-blood pressure, joint problems and other health concerns.

Both ‘our’ babushkas have spartan existences in basic one-room apartments. Their pensions are not enough to purchase sufficient food, medicine, pay for public utilities and home repairs. Our assistance can help make life a little easier and our visits brighten their lives.

If you would like to sponsor a babushka or a dedushka (grandfather), it costs 150 euro a year. The well-run Babushka Adoption Foundation have more than 700 sponsors worldwide and almost 1000 elderly people in Kyrgyzstan enjoy this special relationship. Their terrific staff work to establish a personal relationship between you and your beneficiary, easing their feelings of loneliness and social exclusion. They will translate letters, distribute presents and even help sponsors to visit their sponsored grandmother or grandfather. For more information please visit

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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I just heard a lovely story about one of therecent groups that met with Babushka Shura (Alexandra) in Bishkek. Babushka Shura was excited to see so many young handsome guys in were in the group, so the boys gave her their extra passport photo. Shura now has a collection of photos of 20-year-old students from England and Australia on her wall, above her bed. She said she will sleep well from now on and always dream about the boys. What a character!

I have just visited Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan and had dinner with the gorgeous Nina and Alexandra. What a great organisation, if anyone wants to make a real difference to someones life – this is a good as it gets.'

Last year our group spent a delightful evening with the babushkas, unfortunately only one of these lovely ladies could meet with us. The translator made our time worthwhile and we gained much from the opportunity. Hopefully our visit was has much fun for her …..
regards Viv

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