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Nina Balabayeva

Kazakhstan , Class of 2020

Nina Balabayeva

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Nina Balabayeva has dedicated her life and career to combating trafficking in persons and helping trafficking victims, both foreign and Kazakhstani, before there were even laws on the books in Kazakhstan to provide them access to justice.

She is highly regarded by her peers and those within the government as one of the leading human trafficking experts in the country.

With a background in psychology and education, Balabayeva has deftly navigated bureaucracy to establish and fund an NGO dedicated to the issue and a shelter for victims of human trafficking. She has also provided trainings to colleagues and government officials on human trafficking as part of her tireless work to strengthen anti-trafficking efforts in the country. 

As the founder and director of Rodnik, an NGO located in Almaty, Balabayeva has been instrumental in leading the organization’s work to provide psychological and legal support to victims of trafficking in multiple regions of the country. Over the past two decades, her organization has assisted more than 16,000 people.

Through Rodnik, Balabayeva opened the first shelter in Kazakhstan for victims of human trafficking in March 2006, providing individualized support to residents and serving as a model for shelters across the country. In 2004, Balabayeva led Rodnik to stand up a human trafficking hotline, which it still operates.

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