Ilham Khudalbergenov, from Dashoguz in northern Turkmenistan, has been a volunteer for the Turkmenistan Red Crescent’s tuberculosis (TB) programme since early 2010.
He says: “After I was cured I decided to come back to the clinic where I had my treatment and help other people who are going through the same thing.”
Ilham described what it was like when he found out he had TB. “I was shocked,” he says. “I felt really bad. I caught it when I was working on a construction site in Saint Petersburg, perhaps because the climate is so damp or because someone I worked with had it.”
Support from nurses
Ilham decided to come home to a clinic Dashoguz to finish his treatment after spending three months at a hospital in Russia.
“I received support from Red Crescent nurses at the clinic,” he says. “They helped me take my medication and provided me with food parcels, which was a huge help because I couldn’t work at the time.” The Red Crescent is the only organisation in Turkmenistan to provide food parcels to the most vulnerable clients.
As a volunteer, Ilham worked at World TB Day activities, distributing information leaflets on TB in markets and other public places.
Volunteers provide invaluable support to the Red Crescent in Turkmenistan. In 2009, volunteers reached around 7,500 people on issues related to TB in Turkmenistan, by distributing leaflets and teaching sessions about TB symptoms and prevention measures.
Ilham often returns to the TB clinic in Dashoguz to support others going through treatment. “One of the most valuable things I can do,” he says, “is to provide emotional and moral support for people still in treatment. I can really empathise with what they are going through.”