Favorite dish: Beshbarmak
Master Shyrdak Maker Mairam Omurzakova is a founding member of the Altyn Kol Women's Cooperative.
In 1995, she hosted a delegation from the Swiss development organization Helvetas. Upon entering her home, Mairam's visitors were astounded and enthralled with the family's rug collection. In these traditional rugs, they saw something of tremendous value for both the outside world and for the women of Kyrgyzstan. "I am so thankful to Helvetas," says Miariam, "They taught us how to make a business, how to sell our rugs, what our craft was worth."
Shyrdak rugs are independently unique to Kyrgyzstan. Each takes hundreds of hours and the combined effort of a community to create.
Mairam is very thankful for the global perspective that she's gained from selling her rugs. At 64, she is talkative, lively and has many stories to share about the history of Altyn Kol and her resulting experience. "Since beginning to sell Shyrdaks, my world outlook is always changing," she says. The particularly enjoys traveling and meeting people around the world.
Mairam lives in Kochkor with her 73-year-old husband who still works as a family physician for the local state-run medical clinic. She is supported in her work by her three adult children and by a warm network of family and close friends.