Tajikistan: change for life
By Áine Lynch, Save the Children, Tajikistan
Over the past three months I have been working in Save the Children’s field office in Kurgan Teppe, Tajikistan.
Tajikistan is a seismically unstable country that experiences more than 1,000 quakes and tremors a year. It is home to erratic weather patterns and extreme temperatures. Crops often fail causing sporadic food insecurity in rural areas.
Since breaking from the Soviet Union, basic infrastructure, public services and the health and education system have declined dramatically. It is in fact the poorest of all the former Soviet-bloc nations.
Despite all the hardships they face, I have found the people of Tajikistan to be extremely resilient and they have welcomed me with open arms into their culture, customs and way of life.
Children for change
My work as an education officer has led me to work with the School Health and Nutrition (SHN) project that is based in six targeted districts of Tajikistan. So far we are reaching more than 75,000 children and their families.
The SHN programme aims to improve children’s attitude to and knowledge of good health, hygiene, nutrition and oral hygiene. It is our hope that this will help to establish healthy lifelong habits.
Through peer training, workshops and other activities, headteachers, pupils and community members are working together to identify and rectify the problems they face in their schools and communities.
Children are considered agents for change throughout the SHN programme, and often they are the ones who teach their peers about the importance of a balanced diet and good hygiene.
The most notable problem in the schools we are working in is the lack of access to quality drinking water. Many children are suffering from water-borne diseases and are missing school days as a result.
In some schools, children have no access to running water and rely on rainwater or water from nearby streams or canals to drink.
Save the Children has recently distributed water purification sachets to the schools where we work with in an effort to decrease the cases of preventable illnesses, such as diarrhoea.
The provision of these sachets will help children to feel confident that they can drink clean, potable water at school without the worry of getting ill.
Here for the long-term
We have been working in Tajikistan since 1994 and continue to work with some of the most vulnerable children and communities around the country.
Although the country faces many reoccurring problems, it is often forgotten among the barrage of ‘-stans.’ It is our belief that it should be put back on the humanitarian radar.
Save the Children is working with children and communities across the country on health, education, child rights and advocacy projects, helping pave the way for a brighter future.
Your donations can help us reach even more children in Tajikistan and around the world.