News / Asia

Tajik Migrants: Both Parents Leaving for Work Puts a Strain on Those Left Behind

As many Tajik children lose both their parents to labor migration, this is placing an increasing burden on other family members left behind to look after them. (File Photo)As many Tajik children lose both their parents to labor migration, this is placing an increasing burden on other family members left behind to look after them. (File Photo)
x
As many Tajik children lose both their parents to labor migration, this is placing an increasing burden on other family members left behind to look after them. (File Photo)
As many Tajik children lose both their parents to labor migration, this is placing an increasing burden on other family members left behind to look after them. (File Photo)
Daisy SindelarSohibai Karomatullo
Ten-year-old Nigora has grown used to seeing her father and brother just once a year. 
 
Both men left Tajikistan several years ago to find regular work in Russia. But one month ago, her mother left as well, putting Nigora in the care of an older sister. This is something she has found harder to take.
 
"I don't know what my father does there," she says. "But my mother works as a seamstress. My brother makes tables and chairs. My mom left a month ago, but my brother and father left many years ago. They call me every day, but I still miss them. My mom told me that when they buy a place [in Russia], they will bring us all there."
 
Some 1 million Tajiks are estimated to be living and working outside their country, settling temporarily in Russia or other countries to find work.
 
It's a massive drain in a country of less than 8 million people. But it's labor migration that keeps impoverished Tajikistan afloat, with remittances of $3 billion accounting for nearly half of the country's GDP.
 
For years, it was men who traditionally left the country to make money. But since the global financial crisis in 2008-09, Tajik women have begun making the journey as well, accounting for as much as one-sixth of the outflow.
 
More Than They Bargained For
 
Many are able to find work as housekeepers, nannies, and cleaners. But their exodus has created a new demographic reality in Tajikistan: thousands of parentless children, left in the care of older siblings or more often grandparents, for years at a time.
 
Grandparents often serve as surrogate babysitters in close-knit Tajik families. But many say the daily rigors of full-time child care are more than they bargained for - and hard on the children as well.
 
Mamurbi, a 70-year-old pensioner living in the town of Qurghonteppa, some 100 kilometers south of Dushanbe, has been left taking care of seven grandchildren between the ages of 14 and 4.
 
Mamurbi raised three children of her own, but that hasn't been enough to prepare her for the realities of acting as disciplinarian in her newly unruly household.
 
"I try my best to do as much as I can," she says. "Mostly with kindness, but sometimes by force. I say to them, 'My dear children, don't do this.' But it's very difficult to bring up children without a man in the house. Thank God they listen to their uncle."
 
In Tursunzoda, a town near the Uzbek border, 60-year-old Shamsiya Shoimardonova is facing a similar dilemma. She says she "couldn't say no" when her daughter decided to leave for Russia and asked her mother to take in her four children. But now she says she has "slight regrets."
 
"Three of my grandchildren are hitting puberty, and it's very hard to find a common language with them," says Shoimardonova, who still works as a teacher at a children's art center.
 
She adds that the sheer physical labor is more than she accounted for. "During my lunch break I go home and make them a meal and then I go back to work. Then in the evening I go home and cook again, in addition to cleaning the house and doing the laundry," she says. "I'm already old. It's difficult for me."
 
'Deprived Of A Bright Future'
 
Few in Tajikistan deny the importance of remittances sent home by migrants like Shoimardonova's daughter, which can help pay for improved health care, education, and nutrition. But many say that two-parent migration leaves children exposed to a host of new problems.
 
In a report issued in November 2011, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said many Tajik children left behind by labor-migrant parents were vulnerable to bullying and suffered from depression and increased aggression.
 
According to Faizali Sukur, a sociologist in Dushanbe, parents should think twice about the two of them migrating, regardless of the financial benefits. "Those who have left their children here in Tajikistan and leave as labor migrants are making a serious mistake," he says. 
 
"You can't expect anything good to come of a child who grows up without constant parental supervision. Children are like young branches - you can bend them in whatever direction you like. Most of these children don't have a good education. They're being deprived of a bright future."
 
In Tursunzoda, Shoimardonova feels much the same. She thought her teaching experience would make it easy to take over care of her grandchildren. But she maintains that a grandparent, can never replace a parent.
 
"Sometimes the children remember their parents, and they start to cry," she says. "When I see that, I have to go to my bedroom and cry myself, in private."
 
Written in Prague by Daisy Sindelar based on reporting by Sohibai Karomatullo in Dushanbe
 
This article originally appeared at RFE/RL

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Arkansas, North Carolina have approved similar laws that gay-marriage opponents say help maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: anna from: south korea
December 20, 2012 8:55 PM
So sad all children should protect being loved, but i hope even one parent could come to live their children.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More