Kyrgyzstan is a country of six million people, one-third of which are children. In its rural areas, education offers a respite from the relentless drudgery of chores and a rare opportunity to communicate with other children. In an effort to support youth mental health, a group of activists began a "You Are Not Alone" initiative, pairing up volunteers with youth in rural areas or youth who have been identified as at-risk. The initiative began after seven teenagers took their own lives two weeks into the nation's coronavirus lockdown. Since then, the project has received more than 100 volunteers and nearly 400 children ages 12 and older. "For some volunteers, the cause is very personal. Eldiyar Manapov, 24, joined the project because he considered suicide as a teenager. Like his phone pal, he grew up without parents and now feels a particular connection with his new friend."

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