Galina Petriashvili Central Asia women stories english


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Stories of rural women from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

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Galina Petriashvili Central Asia women stories english

  1. 1. MY PHOTOS, YOUR VOICESShort stories told by women in Kyrgyzstan and TajikistanIn June and July 2012 2012 1
  2. 2. Author – Galina Petriashvili (interviews and photos)This report was prepared in the framework of the Regional Programme on Labour Migration for Central Asia,which is being implemented by the International Organisation for Migration, UN Women and the WorldBank with the support of the Government of the United Kingdom. The trip to Kyrgyzstan took place between26 June and 5 July, with the assistance of the project partner, the Community Development Alliance regionalprogramme. Women were interviewed who participate in self-help groups supported by UN Women.In Tajikistan, the interviews were conducted between 5 and 9 July in Khujand, Kanibadam, Isfara andIstaravshan at the initiative of, and with the support of, the Association of Business Women of Tajikistan,which conducted a competition for the best women’s business. The interviewees were competitionparticipants who were recommended by the organisers.In addition to the texts, the author prepared the visual materials below:“Kyrgyzstan: women from self-help groups” photo album –“Tajikistan: women in business in Sogd oblast” albums on Facebook 1) Kyrgyzstan: carpets and pillows 2) Kyrgyzstan! Your landscapes, people and animals 3) Tajikistan, Sogd oblast: women, children, men, donkeys materials from Tajikistan which include 10 interviews in Tajik: – Nargis Azizova, Programme Specialist, UN Women Regional Office for Eastern Europeand Central Asia 2
  4. 4. FOREWORD In life, it goes without saying, there are many problems. Without question they start somewhere. Something didn’t work out, somebody was cheated, or the stars didn’t align correctly. For us, post-Soviet people, there is no way thet could have aligned correctly. Our region is poor. Not because of something inherent, but as a result of global injustice. Nothing in this world disappears, and if rivers and purses are emptying here, they are filling up somewhere else… Labour migration is a desperate attempt to escape injustice. Like birds or fish, we migrate to a place where we hope we will find food. We are ready to pay a lot for this chance, and we do pay. Too often it’s not enough. Migration is not just about people who have decided to leave. It’s not just about empty houses. It’s atest of strength, both for those who left and for those who stayed behind. On the wider scale, it’s a test ofcivilisation: for the whole of humanity.You are a grain of sand in a huge, not too well-equipped space. A grain of sand facing its own circumstances.Let’s say without a degree, but with five children. Not very self-confident. Imagine depending on yourhusband, not pushing yourself forward. You’re living… And suddenly a moment comes when you see it’sover: there’s no road forward. You can only count on yourself. Some see this as the very brink; others see itas a timely moment.I wrote these short stories in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It seems to me that these voices are withoutexception optimistic. They brilliantly confirm my favourite fable, about the frog that fell into the cream butrefused to drown. These women also thresh with their legs and churn their little pieces of butter. At the sametime they change themselves, becoming more confident, open, smiling!My optimism is grounded in the fact that these women have proved the most important thing: you have thecapability! In the poorest villages, in the most difficult conditions, you can pull yourself out of poverty. Youcan if you really want to. Some knowledge, a bit of credit, a little support – and you will get there yourself!You will get there, and now you will never become passive and dependent. Women from self-help groups in Kyrgyzstan, at the Bishkek seminar. 4
  5. 5. KyrgyzstanStories from Karachach AYDAKEEVANovo-Voznesenovka village, Issyk Kul oblastSONS My family is one of the few that migration has really helped, without any complications and victims, thank God. I have three children – two sons and a daughter. My daughter is finishing school, while the boys are already grown up: both are migrants. They work in construction in Tumen oblast, as bricklayers. One of them has acquired Russian citizenship, and he earns more. The other gets paid almost half as much, but it’s still not bad. He’s very popular and has lots of friends. I think that Siberia is a great place. People live in harsh conditions, they have no time to dream up problems for themselves, and they help each other. Also, my sons are good boys – non-drinkers, hard-working and sociable. And everything’s going well. Though it’s difficult for me without them. But I’m grateful to God that everything is fine. After all, usually Karachach Aydakeeva it’s not so rosy. You know how it goes often? They go to earn money, but then the parents have to sell their last cow, to rescuethem from there. How often it happens! They’ve lost their documents, got into a fight, been cheated…Recently two young men were brought back to our village from Russia. One was 20 and the other 22. Theyhanged themselves. Nobody knows how it happened. Our diaspora brought them back, at their own expense.At least their parents didn’t have to pay for it. Such stories chill the souls of any mothers. Especially thosewhose children are working there. Lord, save and protect them.BACK TO THE FUTURE?We have new mosques around here: lots and lots of them. They’re good for just one reason: men have starteddrinking less. If earlier 70 per cent were heavy drinkers, now it is 30-40 per cent. What the wives didn’tmanage, the mullah achieved: some areoff the wagon. But at the same time, thatsame mullah advises women to covertheir heads with scarves. But how canyou work like that?! In a scarf? It’simpossible to do all the work thatburdens us every day dressed like that …And I think that if God gave you a face,why should you hide it? Why? This isn’tIraq, or Pakistan. Life should improve,get easier, not more difficult. Whyshould we go in a direction which won’tmake life better?! Or the mullah says thatwomen should sit at home. Very well.But who will earn money? Work on thefields? It’s pretty strange.I often think about our traditions as well.Many people go away as migrants to Kayirma village, at the rural health point 5
  6. 6. earn money for celebrations. Our tradition is to celebrate weddings and other events on a massive scale. Two,three or four hundred people might be fed… You need such a lot of money for that. And so people go to earnmoney, take huge loans, just so as not to be “worse than the neighbours”. Relatives take turns to chip in,because one family can’t carry such a celebration. I have three brothers and three sisters, for example. So weare always chipping in. But why? To put in so much money, earned with such difficulty, for one event!! Ithink it’s stupid. But everyone does it. Including me…VALERIANBefore we created our self-help groups, we had been studying quite a long time. At first we didn’t reallyunderstand why we needed them. Life was difficult enough as it was, it took so much effort just to stay afloat.And now on top of that we needed to go somewhere, listen to something. But soon we started enjoying it. Atleast we were going somewhere! We were talking, finding out new things. Convincing ourselves over andover again that it was not just our lives that were difficult – there are lots of people around who are struggling even more. One wants to help them. And by helping others you help yourselves – it’s in your favour because you grow stronger. Under the programme terms we were supposed to pay for seeds from the first harvest, and put the money into a common pot. That’s how our village funds started. We thought up names for them, to differentiate them from each other. Ours, for Novo-Voznesenovka, is called Iygilik. There are 55 women and five men contributing to it. There are men in almost all the groups. From the very beginning we discussed whether to have them in our team. There were differing opinions, but in the end we decided that we couldn’t keep out people who wanted to cooperate with us and could be helpful for the group. Landscape around Kayirma We all put an equivalent sum to the cost of seeds into our funds. This was our initial small capital. Gradually we added contributions to it, little by little, 100 som at a time,a little more than $2. But in our village, that’s money as well. Now we have about 47,000 som in our fund(about $1000). We have decided to launch a new product: plant a field with valerian. Before coming to thedecision, we developed a business case, and consulted specialists. If everything works out, we hope that ourfund will grow substantially. It’s clean around here, and pharmacists should like our valerian.We’ve already had one good project. In 2010 we won a UN Women competition and received a grant of180,000 som (a little over $3,500). We asked for the money to create a village information centre. Previouslywe could only get news at the shop. So we built our information centre. Now we have installed six radioloudspeakers in the village. They broadcast village news, announcements and music. During the breaks weput on the ordinary radio. And it’s become more cheerful somehow! During that project we created a photosalon in which we put a photocopier. The income from those services is also put in the common pot – thevillage fund. We have big plans for the future. We want to open a vegetable shop, and then a little cannery.The new seeds and technology have given us an unprecedented harvest. We now have lots of vegetables andare learning how to sell them properly. 6
  7. 7. Stories from Roza IMANKULOVAChong Alysh village, Talas oblast THE CHILDREN OF A MIGRANT WOMAN There are six people in my group, including one young man. He is 19 years old and has a four year old sister. Their mum left to earn money when the girl was very small. She left her daughter with her brother’s family and went off. She had been teaching French at the school: she was educated but fate was unkind to her. The first time she got married, her husband ran away. Her second husband turned out to have psychiatric problems, it was just terrible. And then she herself ran away from him, to Moscow. She left and disappeared. The children are growing up but she’s nowhere to be seen. And it’s already three years now. The uncle is getting stressed: he has his own family, his own worries. But these children have no home, no land – nothing. And no mum. They don’t need any money from her anymore: they just want to know if she’s alive. Last year Zhdi Roza Imankulova Menya 1 came here and filmed a segment, that’s how the children made an announcement about their mother. They had greatexpectations, but nothing came of it: she didn’t get in touch. There were rumours that she was probablydrinking. But I think that she just didn’t manage to make money, and she’s embarrassed to travel with emptyhands, so she hasn’t been back…Whatever it is, it’s such a shame for the children. I startedgoing to various offices and people asking for help. The villageadministration, the local deputies’ committee: about land.Because we’re fed by the land. If you don’t have any, you justlie down and die of hunger. I walked and walked, and they gavethe two of them 0.8 hectares. I was so glad! As were our entiregroup. His uncle helped him sow it: yes, we all helped.I went further – to the village council – and “won” for them a2,500 som benefit (about $60). After all, how does it workhere? Migrants take credit and leave. The main thing for themis to get money for the road, at any cost. They don’t think aboutthe future; they just hope to get rich and pay it back. But theydon’t get rich, and the banks take away their homes. Andpeople become homeless. How many has it happened to, who iscounting them? Children are left with elderly people, and theydon’t have the energy to look after them, so they live like streetchildren. The children of migrants don’t get benefits, theyrefuse to give them to them, and the children have no one to goto about it. Even though the benefits are small (150-200 som, or$3-5), at least you can buy bread.1 Zhdi Menya [Wait for Me] is a television programme broadcast in Russian language on a Russian Federation channeland widely watched in the post-Soviet area. It tells the stories of people finding each other again after being separatedfor many years. The programme facilitates this giving people the chance to make appeals on the air. 7
  8. 8. It’s such a shame for them! The children of this teacher. We tried to help them. And it worked! There’s somewhere to build a house, a garden, a field, an allowance for the girl: we managed to get all this from the council. And the boy is now a student – he studies part-time at the polytechnic institute. He is a good boy: I hope we have set his destiny straight. And we won’t abandon the girl either. I’ve been elected a village councillor – I will probably have more chances to help others as well now. HOW WE WORK In my youth I studied to be a shop assistant and worked in a canteen, a shop, and the district consumers’ society. I was always busy, with lots of work and enough money. I have eight children – four A field in Chuy oblast girls and four boys. Now one is working in Moscow: his wife lives in Talas and works as a teacher. Anotherson graduated from the law faculty at university, and he is also married. The third has finished school and hasbeen accepted to medical academy. One daughter lives in Bishkek, and is looking after children: her husbandalso has a university diploma. They all are educated. I managed to get my children educated despite the factthat my husband has been disabled since he was involved in an accident 22 years ago. All that time I’ve beencounting on myself, and I’ve done fine.How, they ask, did I have my children educated? Look. We have three hectares of land, and grow beans there.Of course, there are lots of expenses. The state tax on fields is 400 som for every hectare, so a total of 1,200som (about $25). We also pay for irrigation water. And hire a tractor. And pay labourers when we can’tmanage things ourselves. We try to do it all ourselves of course. The children come back and work. When theharvest is collected, merchants from Turkey take it straight away. Our beans are good and easy to sell. Weearn up to 200,000 som for the harvest, more than $4,000. It takes a lot of work, but everyone knows that isthe only way to save us. Labour. There are also the gardens – 0.2 hectares under apple trees. We have fivecows, and sell milk for 15 som ($0.30) per litre. That’s how we live. We can’t complain.Stories from Sajira IZANALIEVAOgombaeva village, Talas oblastSEEDLINGSWhat does our group need its capital for? Thatis, its money. Well, you never know. Forexample, calling in specialists to teach us howto properly plant and cultivate. After all, untilyou attain your own wisdom – and they arespecialists – you don’t need to worry, but justask and receive answers. New knowledgeexcites me greatly, and it draws me to test it outquickly. But when I do what I was taught, Ialways want to step back a little, do it my own 8 Sajira Izanalieva
  9. 9. way, and then see what happens. I get a real buzz out of agronomy, and I’ve begun to experiment. I plantedseedlings in three different types of container and waited to see what would happen. And I see, in the plasticcups, the seeds grow not bad, but quite boring. In the wooden boxes they do a bit better, but nothing special,about average. But in the foam boxes they’re doing just great! Alright, let’s save the weak shoots. I replantedthem in paper cups and they grew miraculously. We have good seeds, and everyone has a fantastic harvest.But mine is simply unprecedented! I can feed my family from one bush. I walk tall, and give everyoneadvice. RUSSIAN LANGUAGE I didn’t know it at all in my youth, and just spoke Kyrgyz. But my friends knew a lot, and spoke Russian well And then one day I heard the word “sosed 2”, and I was intrigued to find out what it meant. ‘What does it mean,’ I asked, ‘this word “sosed”?’ My friend said so arrogantly: “You don’t even know that?! Then there’s no point you living on the planet!” It made me feel very vulnerable, and I always wondered what this so-important word meant. And then I was already married. One day I asked my husband: ‘Makhmud, don’t laugh! You’ll answer me honestly, won’t you?’ He replied ‘Ask away.’ I asked him what “sosed” meant. He answered me seriously in Kyrgyz: ‘koshuna’. It was funny. I have another story about Russian language. My mother-in-law Kayirma village was a real character. She believed that I didn’t know Russian and took advantage of it. We were sitting at the table and she was rudeto me in Russian! I’m this and that – she flung so much mud at me, mocked me so badly that my ears wilted.I didn’t speak Russian, of course, but I understood it! But I kept quiet, didn’t show anything, as if I had noidea what was going on. My husband turned pale, but also kept quiet, as he didn’t dare stand up to his mother.And it kept on merrily like that. But our neighbour was Russian. One day she popped by to borrowsomething. I forgot about my ploy and said: ‘Mum, Sveta is asking for red thread, do we have any?’ It wasclear that if I understood about the thread, I also could understand her scolding, at least in general. She wasvery embarrassed. And then I learned to speak Russian. Life is long.Story from Jyldyz IBRALIEVA (namechanged, met on the street)BishkekSLAVERYMy son and I are walking here in the squarebecause we’re in that hospital over there, yousee? It’s very stuffy, with no conditioner, andnot even any water. And on top of thatthere’s renovation work going on in there;it’s noisy and dusty. My son is still small,he’s four months old. He was crying andwaking the other children in the ward up, so Icame out here to walk with him, at least he2 “Sosed” is the Russian word for neighbour. Bishkek 9
  10. 10. can sleep a little in my arms. We’re supposed to get out tomorrow. He had a lung inflammation, and now heseems better, so we should leave this hospital, this hell, as soon as possible. But when I remember where wehave to go, I don’t even know what is worse.I live in a building on a square. My husband is in Moscow, working on a building site. He has Russiancitizenship. He’s there, and our son and I are here. My home is a nightmare. My son is so small; he needsattention, but I have no time at all for him. I just feed him quickly, that’s all. The house is full of people – thechildren of my in-laws’ other sons, who are also off earning in Russia. They went with their wives, but lefttheir children with their grandparents. They say with their grandparents, but in actual fact I have to look afterthem. Also lots of guests come from the villages. I am the youngest daughter-in-law: I have to somehowmanage to get everything done. From early morning until late at night. And that wouldn’t be so bad, if it wasjust physical work. Under our traditions, we should kow-tow to every male relative: even if he’s a little brat Ishouldn’t say anything. Another nightmare: my father-in-law doesn’t let me go anywhere! I can’t take a stepout of the house, not for a minute! Never mind my female friends: he doesn’t even let me visit my parents!And he’s always shouting at everyone, scolding everyone, waving his arms around. My mother-in-law is nota bad woman, but she’s beaten down, worn out… They want me to be the same.My husband calls and nips all my complaints in the bud: do what father tells you to do! His father, not mine.Don’t I have my own father? I lived with my husband in Moscow, and he’s just like his father: he beat meand humiliated me. Again I don’t know where’s worse – here or there.You say I should leave… I think I should, yes. My parents would take me back; they are also trying topersuade me to leave. I probably will. You’ll be surprised, but my husband and I are both graduates. Funny asit is, we studied at university. But he wants to live in the middle ages. Well, let him stay there. Yelena MAKEEVA (name changed, met on an aeroplane) Bishkek DIVORCE I’m flying back from the USA, where I spent three months with my friend. My little head is chock-full of impressions, my camera is full of pictures, and I have left lots of new friends there. I don’t even know how I will live at home now. The one magnet is my daughter. And my parents as well: they are golden. The sort, you know, that are young into their old age and still in love with each other. Well, my life isn’t like that. While I was in America, I resolved to get divorced. This is not a life. Even though we’re Russian, local traditions influence us as well, unquestionably. Although it’s common to women in (almost) every culture: give, fetch, serve. But I don’t want that any more. I’ve looked at other families, and now I don’t want things to be how they were, but I want partnership. If there is care, let it be mutual. I’m not against housework, that’s not the issue. But your husband should compensate for that in other ways. But in our case I do the dishes and the earning. Why? Earning, buying him food, taking it home, cooking, and then doing the dishes as well?! The rift deepened when he went to work in Yekaterinburg. He worked and worked, and my daughter and I didn’t get a kopek. He worked for two years and didn’t earn anything for us. Somehow it didn’t bother him. That his daughter and I were being provided for by my parents – it didn’t bother him! He even asked 10
  11. 11. me once why I didn’t go to work myself? That was when I had a one-year-old daughter.A second rift occurred when rumours reached me that he had a woman there.And this is the third: when I went away he gave our daughter to the parents. As if he wasn’t capable oflooking after children. Our daughter is five. What is there to cope with? A mature, independent little person!Even though she’s still an infant. Your child.And so I decided that I don’t need this anymore. I have started working, like he suggested, and I’ve earnedmoney. I fully provide for myself and my daughter. I’m still far from 30. I will find someone who will suitme in every way. Otherwise what’s all this toil for?========================================================================STORIES ABOUT THE WORK OF SELF-HELP GROUPS, KyrgyzstanBubumayram Sarieva, Myskal Jumalieva, Zeynep Bermanova, Zuurabubu Mambetalieva, Kaliman Ismailova, Kalicha StamovaKayirma village, Chuy oblast 11
  12. 12. RURAL HEALTH POINT Listen, we have experienced living! Specifically in the self-help groups. Before everyone dug their own garden and that was that. Yes, and the yields were nothing special. With the seeds we were given last spring, we can at least imagine a real harvest. Earlier it was just a little at a time. But our main success is not the garden. The main achievement is our village hospital. We are sincerely proud of our project. We decided to do it, and did it! Thanks, of course, to UN Women for your assistance. Look how beautiful it is – clean, comfortable, with all the essentials. To check blood pressure before you had to go to the district centre. Now Zeynep checks it here, gives people theirWomen from this self-help group at work in the garden prescribed injections, dresses cuts if necessary, and vaccinates children. It took a lot of effort to win for the village a single salaried Feldscher. 3 Zeynep lives in our village, and has a lot of experience – it’s good for her and for us. Once a month specialist doctors come here. It makes things so much easier for the villagers! We don’t need to go anywhere. Even if we’re standing in a queue, it’s still home. Our little clinic was built on an empty field, with foundations. The construction was financed by the Village Health Committee, and a UN Women grant bought the furniture and equipment. We chose the builders, and told them what to do and how to do it. We studied the process, because you need to see everything with your own eyes. While it was being built, we became specialists ourselves – about concrete, roofs and electric wiring. At first the men in our village were laughing: look, the grannies are building a house! Whatever next! But as the roof went up they quietened down and stopped joking. Now they have been silenced. Here, to compare, there is a building that was started 10 years ago. It’s full of weeds. And we went and did it in several months. And how it’s energised us! I believe in myself! We now know for sure that we will succeed in what we take on. We want to start a preserves business. We have lots of raspberries and various vegetables. We will process them here. Zeynep Bermanova, the Feldscher, in her office 3 A Feldscher is a mid-level healthcare professional who provides various medical services, including primary healthcare, obstetrics and minor surgery in countries of the former Soviet Union, mainly in rural areas 12
  13. 13. Myskal ЖУМАЛИЕВА Kayirma village, Chuy oblast CARPETS In April I, Bubumayram Sarievea, and another activist from our village travelled to Istanbul, to a feminists’ forum, which is regularly hosted by the Canadian organisation AWID. We were part of the delegation of Kyrgyzstan. The forum organised a fair to sell handicrafts brought by the participants. We had brought things. For three whole days we sold our wool – carpets, slippers, bags. We didn’t earn a huge amount, but all the same contributed to our village fund. On top of that we were testing ourselves. We are still thinking about how to get this business going. The women here have golden fingers – look at the carpets in all the houses. Probably peopleMyskal Жумалиева would love to buy such carpets. We will think the idea over. Women from the Kayirma village self-help group display carpets they have made with their own hands 13
  14. 14. Nuray ISMAYILAKUNOVA Kulanak village, Naryn oblast SCARVES Here in Bishkek it’s so hot. But where we’re from the rain is cool, if not cold. Fruit hardly grows, and the climate is not very favourable for vegetables either. We didn’t plant a lot before, but after setting up the self-help group we tried, and it worked out. Of course, much more work is needed than in other regions – you need greenhouses and polytunnels… But nevertheless you get a harvest, and can sell at much higher prices. However, our group has another specialisation. In total there are 12 self- help groups in Naryn oblast - of these 10 are agricultural and two make scarves. Ours is one of the two. Do you like our scarves? Silk and wool. Original, fashionable, and beautiful. In Нурай Исмайилакунова order to make them we buy silk, wool and dyes. Then our hands and imaginations take over. Inthe group there are 12 women. Sometimes we all work together, while at other times we work in smallergroups, or sometimes by ourselves. Whatever people are comfortable with. The important thing is that ourproduct is common: together it’s easier to sell them. We don’t just make scarves, but also other products:sleeveless woollen pullovers, hats, tea cosies, and slippers. Now we’re wondering where to sell them all. Thisis the important question. We can make as many as we need, if only we can sell them.The population of Kulanak is about 2,000. Earlier we hadn’t heard of migration, everyone sat at home. Thenwe saw that southerners had gone off into the world, and we also set off. Both men and women. But we hopeto hold out here. We’re all trying to move ahead with our handicrafts. Ainura Musaeva, Coordinator for Naryn oblast and Nuray Isamyilakunova, demonstrating their work 14
  15. 15. TAJIKISTANStory of RavzatbonuNEGMATULLOEVADirector of Real Limited CompanyProducer of polyethylene water pipes.Producer of aluminium electric wires.KhujandI am an accountant by training. Whenmy children were born I went to workin a bazaar. My mother-in-law sewedclothes for the circumcision rite, and Isold them. I started in 1993, almost20 years ago. My main reason was toearn enough for the party to celebratemy oldest son’s circumcision, as Ivery much wanted it to be doneproperly. Then we saw that the workwas going well, and we were earning Ravzatbonu Negmatulloevasteadily. We started to think abouthow to build on our success. At thattime, a serial came onto television about Maria Lopez, which was very popular. We saw new models there,changed the fabrics and began to modify our patterns. We watched how our business took on a new lease oflife! Then we began to make two versions of the boy’s costume: one for the circumcision, and other for thebanquet afterwards. In sum, we tried to think of something new, not stand in one place. Our own little shophad already opened, and the business was expanding.When the President announced the Decade of Water, we already had money to start a new business. I boughtsecond-hand equipment in Tashkent and brought it to Khujand. Of course pipes are not jackets for boys. Wesuffered a lot, and I didn’t sleep at night, until everything was set up. At one point my husband was unhappybecause I was staying at the workshop until late at night. But it was necessary to make some sacrifices. In theend it all worked out. My husband also has his own business – a restaurant. We are a close family, and nevercount who brings how much money to the house. We have two sons and a daughter, and need to think abouttheir future.When the Decade of Water was announced I immediately understood that I should go into pipes. It’s hothere, and in the summer you need a lot of water. We didn’t have our own pipes, just imported ones. That’swhy I wanted so much to master this business. We were the first to start and today, I can say, we aremonopolists in Sogd oblast. We need to develop and expand: the market is growing. 15
  16. 16. Ravzatbonu displays her manufactured electric wiresHer plastic workshopWhen the pipe business had matured, I wanted something new again. I decided to open another workshop, tomake electric wires. So I went and did it! I’m looking for consumers not just in Tajikistan but also in othercountries. Our cables are high quality and cheap.I provide employment: I employ 32 people full time, and another 50 as occasional workers. 16
  17. 17. Ravzatbonu with her son, who helps her at workStory of Salima IsmatovaSewing businessToilet paper manufactureIsfaraSalima Ismatova 17
  18. 18. I completed school in 1978, and then went to technical college, and I worked in the sewing factory for a longtime. When it closed, I was able to buy half the factory and some of the equipment. That was the start of mybusiness.We have 15 sewing machines. Of course they’re not new, and I need to think very seriously aboutreequipping. But meanwhile we’re sewing the simplest things: duvet covers and everyday clothes.The sewing workshopI also have another business – we make toilet paper from waste paper. Recently we were able to buy abuilding, and we’ll soon start reconstructing it, and then equipping it. As of yet we’re working withantiquated, written off equipment which I brought from Tashkent. Our business is finding clients, but weneed to think of the future.The workshop where waste paper is recycled into toilet paper 18
  19. 19. Salima with some of the finished productThis building contains Khalima’s office and her sewing workshop======================================================= 19
  20. 20. The story of Narzikhon OrtikovaGold embroidery workshopIsfaraNarzikhon OrtikovaI’ve been doing this for 15 years now. Firstly it was a kind of hobby in my free time. I tried to make beautifulthings for children. I used to work as a kindergarten teacher. Then the money disappeared, and with it myservice. My husband worked as a driver at the chemicals factory, but our two salaries were not enough tocover anything. How would we feed the children? We have four of them – two sons and two daughters.That’s when my hobby came in useful.Now the workshop feeds us. It is still a family business – my children, daughters-in-law and granddaughterswork there. We make ceremonial clothes for festivals: weddings and circumcisions, ornamental shoes andskullcaps.We are a harmonious family. Many of us have artistic talents. My oldest son, for example, went to Russia,and set up a woodcarving business. He earns well, but he’s coming home because home’s best. My brother isan artist as well, as are my father and uncle.But my workshop is our women’s project, as mainly it’s the women of the family who work there. Only myhusband helps a bit – he makes templates for shoes. It’s good for us– we work happily together. And so thethings we make also turn out beautiful. 20
  21. 21. Nargizkhon’s granddaughters help actively at the workshopNargizkhon’s harmonious family 21
  22. 22. Nargizkhon’s grandson models the clothes for the circumcision ritualThe story of Muyassar AlikulovaDairy productionIstaravshanMuyassar Alikulova 22
  23. 23. We produce sour milk products, curds and cheese. It all sells very well and quickly, because it is of excellentquality. We even have clients in Dushanbe, and send produce there by plane. Why so far? Because ourproducts are absolutely natural – from cows that graze in pollution-free areas.We don’t have problems with the consumers, but we do need to reequip the enterprise. And this requiresmoney. We’re still using old equipment, which requires a lot of labour… In the future we want to create anintegrated enterprise with its own livestock farms, and milk being processed on the spot.Sometimes Muyassar’s daughter helps at the workshopWorkshop employee 23
  24. 24. The production process: treating milk to prepare cheeseThe small team of the dairy workshop, with the boss in the centreVideo materials: interviews (in Tajik) with the participating women: 24