January 6, 2005: Headlines: COS - Kyrgyzstan: Billings Gazette: Nathaniel Arguelles, a 23-year-old Peace Corps volunteer, has been teaching for the past 16 months in a village outside Jala-Abad in southern Kyrgyzstan

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kyrgyzstan: Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan : The Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan: January 6, 2005: Headlines: COS - Kyrgyzstan: Billings Gazette: Nathaniel Arguelles, a 23-year-old Peace Corps volunteer, has been teaching for the past 16 months in a village outside Jala-Abad in southern Kyrgyzstan

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Nathaniel Arguelles, a 23-year-old Peace Corps volunteer, has been teaching for the past 16 months in a village outside Jala-Abad in southern Kyrgyzstan

Nathaniel Arguelles, a 23-year-old Peace Corps volunteer, has been teaching for the past 16 months in a village outside Jala-Abad in southern Kyrgyzstan

Nathaniel Arguelles, a 23-year-old Peace Corps volunteer, has been teaching for the past 16 months in a village outside Jala-Abad in southern Kyrgyzstan

Billings forms clothing connection with Kyrgyzstan village

By DONNA HEALY
Of The Gazette Staff

Caption: Nathaniel Arguelles, left, gives a warm coat to a young girl whose mother recently died and who has no father.

Hand-me-down clothes have helped forge a connection between Billings and a poor village in a former Soviet Republic.

Thanks to the clothing connection formed by a Peace Corps volunteer, at least a dozen schoolchildren in Kyrgyzstan are wearing warmer jackets this winter. By spring, several dozen infants and toddlers should be dressed in donated outfits shipped from Billings.

Nathaniel Arguelles, a 23-year-old Peace Corps volunteer, has been teaching for the past 16 months in a village outside Jala-Abad in southern Kyrgyzstan. His parents, Dr. Enrico and Martha Arguelles, mailed the first boxes of warm winter clothing from Billings in October. The last of the six boxes arrived before New Year's.

The effort started when Kyrgyzstan's weather turned cold. Arguelles realized that some of his students lacked warm jackets, sweaters, gloves and hats. Since the school, which has about 600 students, relies on wood stoves rather than central heating, some of its classrooms are quite cold. One girl, an orphan who lives with her grandparents, wore a light-weight windbreaker to school during a snowstorm.

At Arguelles' suggestion, his parents launched the clothing drive.

"People are just so good-hearted. In our church and among our friends, people were so good about trying to collect things," Martha Arguelles said.

Members of their church, King of Glory Lutheran, have also raised money for school supplies and contributed $1,000 to buy folding chairs and equipment for the school's auditorium.

"Certainly Nathaniel being there has made it much more real to us how little people have there," Martha Arguelles said. In the village of Leninskoye, Nathaniel lives with a Kyrgyz family and teaches Russian and English to middle-school- and high-school-age youngsters.

Although the children are Moslem, the school sets up a Christmas tree. Children get presents in early January rather than December, and the gifts are dispensed by a figure dressed like Santa Claus and called "Dedt Moroz," or "Father Ice." The school's principal helped figure out how to distribute the warm clothing among the village's neediest children.

The Arguelles have already begun collecting clothes for infants and toddlers for a shipment in late January. The family paid about $70 to send each of the last six boxes. Dr. Arguelles, who plans to visit his son in March, also intends to bring some immunizations and other medical supplies for the children.

Arguelles, a graduate of Colby College in Waterville, Maine, studied Russian for a year in college and then completed a more intensive language program in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital city. His two-year Peace Corps stint in Kyrgyzstan ends in November. Although no other Peace Corps volunteers work in the village of Leninskoye, about 20 volunteers live in nearby Jala-Abad.

Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.





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Story Source: Billings Gazette

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Kyrgyzstan

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