UN Stories, U.S. Voices: Abdurasul Boltaev
UNA-USA member Abdurasul Boltaev is an immigrant from Tajikistan who has spent his life advocating for the United Nations after witnessing first hand the life saving work from UN Peacekeepers.
Abdurasul remembers when he first discovered the work of the UN over 20 years ago. He was only 5 years-old, living in Tajikistan during the civil war. Poverty was prevalent throughout the country, and as violence intensified, it became increasingly difficult to have a normal childhood. With his mother having to work away from home, he was left most days with his brothers, who were both far more concerned with the safety of their family rather than food on their table.
“Being little I didn’t know that wasn’t normal, as a child you’re not supposed to worry about these things but it became my reality. When you are surrounded by warring sides, as a child you look for hope, that’s when I started seeing these white convoys with UN flags, and they were waving blue flags,” Abdurasul said. “My mother used to tell me [the peacekeepers] are here to stop the war, they are here to help us. They would check on us, and drop humanitarian aid.”
Learning English was crucial to Abdurasul’s success in the U.S., crediting his mother for encouraging him to learn. “The UN shows children that they can be champions,” Abdurasul said. “As a child, they would ask us who we wanted to be, I knew I wanted to be someone who would be able to bring peace, be a peacemaker, that is when I thought I would like to study international relations and become a diplomat,” Abdurasul said. He remembers receiving UNICEF pens and notepads, but refused to use them as a child because they were so important to him.
Abdurasul is a member of the UNA Greater Boston Chapter, which he now calls the East Coast home. He knew that he had to be involved in the U.S. and share his story to help others. That is part of what makes UNA-USA chapters so effective—the diversity in experience and backgrounds that shape communities, united in their belief that the world can be a better place if we all come together and advocate for good.
Abdurasul made one thing clear: the UN does good work, and that good work impacts more than what we can see. His story proves that the United Nations makes such a resounding impact on people’s lives, making dreams possible.
In a series called “UN Stories, U.S. Voices,” we will be finding opportunities throughout the year to highlight some of the amazing histories and connections UNA-USA members have to the UN to celebrate its 75th anniversary.