connection, education, opportunity
Participants in Family Life Education Project
Last year, Bridges to Tajikistan provided a grant to local Dushanbe NGO "Zumrad" to help furnish and equip a learning center used by students from a local "internat" school/orphanage. We recently received a brief update and some wonderful photos showcasing the use of the learning center. These photos include a training session on family budget management, English club activities, and the celebration of Earth Day at Zumrad, including a student fashion show. Zumrad students are also working on the small film project Chris Schueler assigned, when he conducted a filmmaking workshop with Zumrad students last summer, and this work will continue when Chris returns to Tajikistan in the fall.
Bridges to Tajikistan has provided electronic educational materials and other support, including Skype-based English practice sessions, for youth development and empowerment programs at the Hamadoni Muzafar Learning Center in Navdi village, a small conservative community in the Rasht District. The Center is located in a remote rural area of Tajikistan with few opportunities for youth. Founded by Hamadony Muzafarov, the Center’s aim is to help youth ages 13-18 to increase their language, leadership,computer and sewing skills. The Center implements a variety of different projects, and works hard to include girls in their programs.
Bridges has provided financial support for a joint project by our Tajik partner, Study the Planet, the NGO “Chashmai Hayot” (a Tajik women’s rights and empowerment organization), and the Department of Women and Family Affairs of EBSA (Executive Board of State Authority) of the Sughd Province. The program provides training to underprivileged and vulnerable young women on personal and public communication skills, interpersonal relationships, basic housekeeping skills, first aid and household hygiene, family financial management, the legal rights and responsibilities of women, and domestic violence prevention. The program also includes a planned second course on handicraft production and entrepreneurship for those women interested in starting their own business. Significant financial support for this grant came through the generous donation of Dr. Sherry Mueller of American University in Washington, D.C.
In the more conservative areas like Navdi village, girls frequently quit school after the ninth grade. Since 2010, the Learning Center has actively engaged girls in their classes, summer camps, service learning and volunteer projects, and other activities. Last year 40 women including 20 young girls completed its sewing and computer courses, 12 girls successfully completed two years of English language study, one of them participated in a US exchange program for one month, and another won a US exchange program scholarship for one academic year, making her the first female exchange student to travel to the US from the Rasht valley of Tajikistan. Now, 57 girls are studying in the Center’s English program.
Here are a couple of photographs of students participating in Skype English conversational practice sessions with a Bridges to Tajikistan volunteer.
One of the challenges is that there is an 11 or 12 hour time difference between New Mexico and Tajikistan, so live sessions must take place early in the morning or late in the evening.
Bridges, with substantial financial assistance from the Tarbiyat Baha’I Community in the US, is supporting the work of Hamadony’s latest project, entitled “Youth Are Our Future.” This program continues his emphasis on education and empowerment for girls through the creation of a Leadership Development Club. The youth of the Rasht district are not familiar with leadership programs.
In his village, the school system does not allow extracurricular classes. The district has very few youth centers, sports teams or other structured activities, and they do not exist at all in the remote areas. The program began in June 2014 and will run through October. Included will be sessions on health education, environment, debating, sewing, volunteering and leadership.