Gulnara Makesheva: “To keep up with the times, it is enough to enter the Internet”

June 24, 2021

Gulnara Makesheva. a lawyer from Naryn, who is a participant in a workshop training for the employees of FLA CC and their partners from non-governmental organizations that took place from June 17-23 in Issyk-Kul.

Internet and social networks help greatly the employees of the Free Legal Aid (FLA) to work with clients, lawyers and civil society activists. The only problem is that online communication is not very developed in the remote regions of Kyrgyzstan. This is a viewpoint of Gulnara Makesheva, a lawyer from Naryn, who is a participant in a workshop training for the employees of FLA CC and their partners from non-governmental organizations that took place from June 17-23 in Issyk-Kul.

Gulnara liked the second day of the training most of all: on June 19, the participants learnt the communication skills in social networks. Here is her explanation, why exactly this subject aroused her interest:

- The point is that I am a coordinator of the FLA CC Coordination Center for Naryn Province and I am the only employee of this organization there. Can you imagine a large territory with a total area of 45 thousand 200 square kilometers with a population of over 289 thousand people, six districts? And the FLA CC “team” is only one person, i.e. me. I have to do all work: communicate with the population, refer them to the consultants and disadvantaged persons under investigation – to free lawyers, there are ten of them in the province. I live in Naryn city, but by force of duty, I communicate with the residents of the entire province.

- You, probably drive seldom since petrol is not cheap. It means that due to your occupation you have to use regularly the social networks.

- Of course, my money is not enough to drive much. I don’t have to move but mostly to sit. But I do it in several virtual spaces – Facebook, Odnoklassniki, Instagram and WhatsApp.

- I don’t think that many residents of Naryn Province, especially your clients, can afford a computer.

- Certainly, not many. However, almost all have cell phones. Communication and Internet are quite good in our region. Basically, both online communication and consultations may be well arranged. And I am doing it: I consult my clients, refer them to lawyers and attorneys. The latter also provide online consultations.

- And is it successful?

- Not so much as we would like it to be, since there are two problems. One of them is that many of my countrymen, Naryn residents are not accustomed to communicating in the global network. Yes, cell phones are common here. It is not difficult to enter the virtual space through them either. Now, even a five-year-old child can do it. But one thing is to have an opportunity and another is to avail it. We need time, to turn an “exotic toy”, the Internet, into a habit and to make it a routine. We have to change our psychology, stereotypes and we are doing this.

- What is the second problem?

- The problem is that I am myself is not very good at communicating in the social networks and promoting myself, my organization, its activity, FLA system, telling people that they have an opportunity to receive free legal aid through them. One day of the workshop was devoted exactly to this topic and I remembered it most of all.

-  What topics did you study at the workshop?

- Firstly, of course, the use of social networks and channels. Selecting the target audience, immersing into the strategy. Preparing and using the content, targeted advertising methods. SMM, applying texts and visual enforcement tools. A separate quite interesting topic is communication with the users – the representatives from different social strata, the use of gender-sensitive lexicon.  Taking an opportunity, I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers of the training, the UNDP and MFA of Finland project “Towards a sustainable access to justice for legal empowerment in the KR”. This project makes a great contribution to development and establishment of the FLA system in our country. They conduct the trainings for lawyers and employees of FLA, open the legal aid centers and help establish the interaction with the FLA entities.

- What can you wish your target audience – the residents of Naryn Province?

- Be more informed and communicative, it is better to know your civil rights. And, of course, keep up with the times. Nowadays, in the twenty-first century, this can be done without leaving a room – it is enough to master the communication skills in the virtual space.