“In order not to risk the children, gave them shelter” – how people live in Russian families in Tajikistan

Some people are really poor, why sometimes it really is impossible to leave the children in the family blood, what does the diocesan orphanage in Dushanbe and how to preserve childhood in extreme poverty.

  • In Russia there is no other people’s children?
  • Husband called and said, “let’s take the children, and the grandmother will hand over to an orphanage”
  • “Out tomorrow – you’re undocumented,” said the homeless dear Professor
  • “No money, her husband left her with three children why give birth?” – 3 stories mom in distress

Autumn from mid-September in Tajikistan called “Afghan” is from the neighboring country blows hard hot wind, carrying with them clubs clay dust from the desert. Hanging in the air, haze, mountains on the horizon seemed to melt away. Although the peak of the summer heat behind us, the time is unpleasant, dusty and ugly.

The local unanimously recommended that come in the spring when it blooms, when grass is still green, not yellow, the air is clear and far-seen.

But came here when he arrived.

In the program of the visit, they sent me from the local diocese, was the item “Visiting a large family N pick the baby up for adoption”. I’m freaking out – why, that’s why you can’t leave the baby in the family blood?

In Tajikistan found out why not. Looks like the poorest.


Tajikistan is in Asia, and it is felt from the very beginning. Even in Moscow, in the queue for check-in, to me, four people came up and asked to take and register their cargo as my, in order not to pay for the advantage.

And the plane one of the passengers fell into inadequate, rammed a cart attendant and climbed to fight. Passengers tied him up (amazing how many were on Board with different kinds of red identity), and he was lying and spat in passing. Then at the airport he ran away from police and staged a race in the hall and passport control.

It seems his papers are not found.

At the airport, I had a big and beautiful car. And more big and beautiful than honey. Asia: if you don’t call a big beautiful machine, no one will believe what you have to say something important.

Local residents pass each other “personal number Viber eldest son of the President of Tajikistan”, where we complain about the neighbors throwing away trash in a common ditch. I don’t know if the “eldest son of the President” any more posts.


The day after arrival we go with the representatives of the diocese to visit the wards – the last Russian family that was killed and left. In most families, no fathers. Or just not (gone, dead, killed in the war), or “went to work to Russia, more information”.

Since 1989 the number of Russians in the Republic dropped 10 times, leaving 35 thousand, is half a percent of the population. In the Moscow district of South Butovo lives about six more people.

If all the remaining Russians of Tajikistan will move to Moscow time – that no one would notice, except for statistics.

Irina, the grandmother of 4 children. Their mother died of cancer, she was only a photograph, which son talks to before bed. One grandson lives in a Church shelter, and the rest with grandma. The house where they rent a room – single-storey former office building in the suburbs of Dushanbe, someone hastily captured during the war. The rooms are former offices, one toilet for the whole house. Water from the irrigation ditch in the yard. A long dark corridor. Outside, the heat inside the dampness and gloom. The walls smell of mold. Still smells like braised eggplant – I think this is a staple food of the poor.

Walls and floors are covered with carpets, touch – raw. Some of the walls painted – it’s called a repair.

Once a month comes to the master who takes money for accommodation. Why he is the master – is unclear. But everyone is afraid that they will expel or raise prices. It’s cheap housing. Those who live here, the more nowhere to live.

The police sometimes comes, but she’s only interested in whether there is drug or Islamists. The relationship of tenants with owner – is strictly their problem.

Grandmother with grandchildren living in the same room, the room is lit by one light bulb. Children do not go to school – no money for school uniform and without uniform to go to school is prohibited. The boy, who lives in the orphanage looks much cleaner, well-groomed and setee their brothers and sisters. And he dressed much better.

Money is enough for a family to rent housing and not starve to death.

We bring Irina grocery set and agree on the fact that she moved with her grandchildren to the orphanage: we need a cook, and my grandmother once worked in restaurants. This food set comes with chicken. When children ate meat last time, Irina remembers.

It remains to find the money to the orphanage to finish.


Elena lives in the area Giprozem, Dushanbe, in the Dorm – very cheap housing which can be removed in the city. Wiring, the plumbing, the walls – everything looks rotten. Gas in the building a long time cut off. On the walls of the hostel you can find traces of bullets, though the war ended 12 years ago.

The war then I remember all and is very afraid she will start again. All describe it as a senseless bloody chaos, where the streets are crowds of people with guns and doing what they want.

Behavior “Yurchik” did not differ from the “Vova”, and the only bulwark of at least relative calm were the Russian soldiers.

Elena is sick – something with the back. She almost gets up, goes outside – very painful. More accurate diagnosis was not possible: on examination no money, leave the kids to go to earn, not with anyone.

My husband works in a foundry of the Chinese. We have just enough money enough to pay the rent and food. Any trouble or loss would put a family over the brink of survival.

Money to send their children to the garden and the school also. Again – no money for school uniforms and to get to pull. No shape to go to school is prohibited by law: it is Asia, students go on dusty streets in white shirt, black trousers and skirts, in shiny shoes.

Elena beautiful. If not a permanent grimace of pain – my back hurts very much – would be attractive.

Two rooms which the family occupies in the Dorm, littered with trash. Heap of nowhere, covered with blankets. Water is only in the kitchen. Elena hesitates terrible mess – so much so that he refuses the help of volunteers. Just don’t want anyone to see how bad it is.

The family has the opportunity to buy these rooms, and not to give two-thirds of earnings for rent. It is based on the Russian money of 30 thousand rubles. To take such a large sum to the family of absolutely nowhere.


Village in the suburbs of Bokhtar (the old name of the city Kurgan-tube). The heat and dust.

A large Irina conflict with the neighbors and they do not allow it to use the common ditch – flowing ditch with a width of thirty centimeters along the street where we take water for everything – drink it, cook on it, its watered gardens. When we go out, a neighbor something blurs into the ditch. At the bottom of the ditch lying eggshell.

Another source of water in the villages, as a rule, no.

From the house of Irene was left half – the second suddenly, the night blew the neighbors. The rest of the house looked at any time may collapse. That is literally the house holds, because the inside from the floor to the ceiling set several don’t even logs, long sticks.

To avoid the risk of younger children, Irina sent them to the diocesan orphanage. Still money for a school she doesn’t.

The incident near the house is the Foundation for a small house. Money to build it and not be afraid that housing will fall on your head, either.

Irina would like to go. But the departure needs the money. It would be possible to sell the land, but because of litigation the land under the ban. Without bribes, the court is not moving. Bribes is also no money.


Ludmila lives in the same village, and Irina, on the same street. Hence, a few tens of kilometers to the border with Afghanistan. In this town the civil war lasted the longest. Russian Kurgan-tube remained three hundred. In addition to 30 old women, parishioners of the local Church, they are all trying to leave.

The place seems godforsaken and deaf. Horizon shrouded by the yellow mist of “Afghan”, the fields around sun-scorched to a smooth yellow color. Wandering around skinny and terrible local cows in Tajikistan do not care about the cattle, just driving it in the morning and driving in the evening. Donkeys, cows, goats, horses, sheep – all look crappy. People in Kurgan-Tyube, also look exhausted.

Lyudmila sick child, a son one and a half years. What hurts – is unclear. The survey costs money. Medications cost money. The local doctor prescribed medications do not help, “surveys” consist of visual inspection and sounding confident diagnosis. You can pass a “normal examination” in Dushanbe, but it is much more expensive.

An ambulance in these places decided to “thank”, otherwise next time may not go.

We reserve Lyudmila money for drugs. In her house also smells of braised eggplant.


In Kurgan-tube there is an Orthodox Church. Very nice, practically in the Central square, on a hill. It is well restored and looks very solemnly, as an officer in dress uniform, civilian among the crowd. Inside the temple empty white walls: repair was delayed and will end who knows when.

In this temple 20 years no one is crowned, because the young Russian in the city. All who were baptized the previous rector, had already left the country. If the baptism happens, it is the children of the military from the Russian base.

In the temple thirty parishioners, all woman. We brought them food packages – chicken, eggs, cereals, butter. Grandmother naturally fast, and it is strange that in the country still have pensions. These pensions enough to stretch his legs.

Grandmother among themselves to discuss the plans, as Zheglov and Sharapov in the film, Govorukhin – “But Marina Ivanovna a cabbage, and Martha Antonovna – potatoes, get together and cook the soup, somehow hold out”.

But there is worse. In the local psychiatric hospital, for example, patients are fed only relatives with “will”. The nurses in the best case a bit keep order. No relatives, no food. Due brought people from the diocese of yogurt patients seriously got into a fight, the orderlies were not to separate them.

The rector of the Church of the Archangel Michael in Kurgan-Tyube – hieromonk Tikhon of St. Petersburg, similar to priests, with photographs of the early XX century. Very thin, very young, very soft and smiling. In view of father Tikhon, maybe 25 years. And maybe 19.

It is unclear how these Sands brought from the Church intellectual underwritten in Spbda diploma.

Busily shows the Church says it wants to equip the choruses, where the stairs to the bell tower and so on. Plans father Tikhon lot. On the background “the Afghan”, skinny cows, three dozen old women parishioners and all of Tajikistan, he seems a little crazy or a Saint.


From Kurgan-tube to Dushanbe and back somehow exhale. Still a city where a lot of European buildings and there is this eerie feeling of “Asia” that it is impossible to describe.

In the temple Dushanbe quite a lot of parishioners, is an active construction of the orphanage and the Russian cultural centre. Capital, after all, the Cathedral.

One of the major concerns of Bishop Pitirim, an institution for children. After what I saw in the families of Irina, Ludmila, Elena – becomes clearer why. Because there is poverty in excess of our usual understanding.

Locals say that several years ago in Tajikistan was very much crowded of Protestant congregations, mostly South Korean. The people went there, there were fed, giving after worship food packages. Then the feed stopped, and the Protestant parishes depopulated.

It’s not cultural influence or upbringing of children in Orthodoxy. The fact that the elementary children were fed, clothed, went to school. To avoid being beaten by drunk neighbors and parents.

Them to have a childhood as we imagine. To keep some perspective, but to join the Tajik army of semi-slaves on construction sites and in stores.

To have something that’s okay for us, but for children in the Tajik poverty unimaginable luxury. A bed, a table, chairs, Cabinet, toys. Books.

The books they read. Read the same as our children watch cartoons. Because of the life they live, the book really is a window into a better world.

In the evening, when we visited the orphanage, the children seem quiet and tired. The teacher complains that the boys are hyperactive, but they are silent and reticent. Maybe it’s at a party.

Children hair cut: almost all of them at the time of admission to the orphanage bore the lice.

The shelter is not completed, it lacks furniture and equipment. Not enough money for salaries – except for the nurses and technicians need teachers for children. Now little children, six people, the plans are big, and need – dozens of children. If you retrofit the second floor, it will be possible to correct not five, but thirty lives. And got kids to feed, clothe, half of the children need doctors and speech therapists. Children lead in mugs, and mugs are also paid.

The shortage of personnel in the diocese of awful: not enough money, and hire nobody. All who though something knows, tend to go. Russian citizenship is understood here as a magic ticket to a happy life. The groom or bride with a Russian passport listed above provided or well educated. All responsible parents want children to learn Russian.

Children at the orphanage are not bullies and do well at school. The parents are bored, but to go back did not want. When they come to visit siblings, those being asked to leave with them, but places in the shelter yet.

On the road told me about a girl that has no documents and which is not given to the shelter because her sister hard-drinking father against it, and mom’s Packed position is absolutely powerless and voiceless creatures. If I had more money, maybe the girl could somehow pull it off. But so far no money.

The shelter needs quite a lot, monthly budget – about 100 thousand rubles. If you expand it will grow and the budget.

Need 300 thousand for kitchen equipment. Two hundred thousand to the normal furniture. The power of one child – 3500 rubles per month. Doctors at children five – thousand to six per month. Speech therapist is 1500 rubles for 8 lessons per month. Some children need to re-register documents, or rather make them from scratch – it is also money, about 3,500 people. Nurses salary – 7000 rubles a month, the teacher of ten thousand. These salaries are considered to be in Tajikistan is low, but normal.

And so on, the parents will understand.

To help the shelter and other wards of the diocese here

If you have ideas or questions, you can call Pauline, coordinator of care: +79689889004

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