A friend’s tragedy that has left scars on her and one who cares about her

07 октября 2011, 10:23

Not a week goes by that I don’t think of a sweet little friend named Assel.


I met her a couple of years ago when I was living in Almaty. It was a sunny spring day, and I decided to take a walk in Panfilov Park, which was near my apartment. I came across Assel and two other university friends talking animatedly on a bench in the park.

As I was passing them, one of the girls got up and began dancing as if she were in a night spot instead of a park. It was so funny that I began chuckling. The girls laughed back at me, and we began talking.

All three of them kept in touch with me for awhile, but Assel was the only one who maintained the friendship over time. 

After graduating from the university in June of 2010, she told me she was going to Kostanai to help an uncle with his business.

I moved to Astana in August of 2010, and didn’t hear from her until December of that year. I was startled to hear that she was calling from a hospital.

She had been helping her uncle when she fell off a third-floor balcony. Her injuries were bad, she said.

She apparently landed on her face because she said she needed plastic surgery. “I will never be normal again,” she sobbed.

The news broke my heart. Assel was lovely. She had big eyes, a slim figure and a calm, relaxed personality that was very appealing.

It saddened me to know that in a few terrible seconds she might have lost her beauty. At least her outside beauty. She would always be beautiful on the inside.

Then she asked me for a lot of money for the plastic surgery, and I felt even worse. I didn’t have it, I told her – truthfully.

Assel was aware that I had helped a number of Kazakh friends with medical bills, including two young women who had fought – and overcome – cancer.

I had just paid for expensive chemotherapy for a 25-year-old who had developed lung cancer. In fact, I’d given Sarina all my savings, and I’d had to borrow $2,000 from a friend to help her complete the chemo regimen.

I was much closer to Assel than Sarina – and here I was unable to help Assel. It was a truly awful moment.

In early January, I went to the States on business. When I returned two months later, I called Assel’s mobile. I got a message saying the phone was no longer working.

I’ve never heard from her again. She never gave me her home telephone number – just her mobile – so I don’t know how to reach her.

My fear is that, since she hadn’t heard from me for two months, she thought I’d abandoned her – and, feeling despondent, she changed her mobile number.

I keep hoping she’ll call my mobile again so I can learn where she is and go see her.

And for the first time in my life, I’ve been thinking that I wish I were rich.

If I’d had a lot of money, I would have paid for Assel’s plastic surgery without a second thought – and I wouldn’t have lost touch with her.   

I’m a journalist, public relations person and professor. Those jobs pay decent money, but none of them will ever lead to me becoming Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.  

I’ve said a lot of prayers about Assel the past several months. I’ve been praying that she’ll regain her health and, with the help of a top-flight doctor, perhaps even her looks. I’ve also been praying that God will heal the scars in her heart that her tragedy surely must have caused her.    

I’d like to ask you a favor, my friends: Please join me in praying for Assel. I’m convinced that the power of prayer is real. If enough of us ask for help for her, the Almighty will act. I’m sure of it.


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