Dilbara strives for a better future through education and volunteering.

With much perseverance, Dilbara finished ninth grade, but now faces new challenges as she transitions out of her orphanage to live with her uncle. Today, however, Dilbara radiates happiness, intellectual curiosity, and self-confidence. Much of her new found confidence can be traced back to her participation in the Passport to Success® (PTS) life skills training program. That program is part of Jasa.kg, a four-year initiative of the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) that seeks to engage a new generation of young people in building a stable, prosperous and democratic society in Central Asia.

Dilbara attended her PTS training in April 2012 at the Boarding School for Gifted Children from Low-Income Families in Tash-Tobo village of Chui province, and was happy to share her experience. “When we had ordinary classes, it was very boring. PTS classes were very exciting. The program taught us how to behave in public places, and I have found a mentor and new friends.” Dilbara was one of 42 youth who attended the 4-month mentorship program, where she worked with her mentor to develop an individual development plan.

Dilbara also took part in a number of volunteering activities with her mentor, who had attended the Summer School of Democracy (SSD) 2012, another Jasa.kg program. Along with other mentees, Dilbara helped install two bus stops for students in the new settlement of Ak-Bosogo and helped support “One Book," a project that distributed books for children from low-income families near Osh bazaar. In addition, she took part in the community service project “Start with You, Clean Village.” Dilbara talks about what she learned. “My feeling of community increased while participating in the mentorship program, and after participating in the volunteering activities I have learned to take care of my community.” Dilbara, along with PTS trainers and 18 trainees, organized a clean-up day on land near their school and distributed leaflets to local villagers asking them not to dump garbage on that property.

Her mentor and an alumnus of SSD 2012, Nurzat Janybekova, talks about her experience mentoring Dilbara. “We work in two directions: personal development and academic progress. I like the fact that Dilbara tells me clearly the kinds of training she needs and which ones she does not need.”

Dilbara says her success is the result of the personal skills and commitment she learned through the PTS program. She says she also learned other important skills—like how to listen, how to respect the opinions of others, and how to develop community projects.