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 Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora