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news | August 19, 2016 | Tajikistan | Emergency

Gulbahor, a Tajik woman who commits to helping vulnerable women

ACTED Tajikistan

On the occasion of World Humanitarian Day, on August 19th, ACTED releases stories and testimonies of ACTED workers on the field, to celebrate their daily commitment to supporting the most vulnerable.

Gulbahor works as AMEU field officer for ACTED in Tajikistan for over 14 years. She shares her story as a humanitarian worker in the country, supporting vulnerable women and children.

“Tajikistan is a low-income country that currently experiences a transformation and development phase in terms of economy, policy and society. The civil war that lasted from 1992 until 1997 left Tajikistan in social and political disarray. The economy and political institutions collapsed, leaving an estimated 60,000-100,000 people dead, and upwards of 700,000 displaced. Following this, poverty spread across the country, and single-parent households and orphaned children became a norm. With no resources for education and insufficient food and clothing, many women and children from the poorest backgrounds turned to the streets to survive, and frequently became at risk of involvement in drug trafficking and/or prostitution. Watching all this personally, I have decided that prevention and fighting such situations while helping vulnerable women and children would be the sense of my life.

My choice fell on ACTED, because its main focus was humanitarian support to vulnerable groups of people, with special focus on women and children. ACTED’s projects and activities there mainly focus on women and youth empowerment, capacity development and education. Such help is the most needed, especially now that women are left alone with their kids and old parents to deal with day-to-day challenges, due to high ration of man labor migration to neighboring countries. ACTED intensively attracts women and helps them to become more resilient. As a result, many women actively participate in ACTED’s projects, especially in isolated areas – this enables them to increase their potential and strengthen their role within the society, and they are now taking leading positions.

I really like working with ACTED because we have a good cohesive team of professionals that are ready to become a “one body” and offer their support at any moment. We don’t have difference between the departments and in urgent cases the whole office could be mobilized to solve problems or achieve one mutual goal. The team is very dedicated and always ready to provide help to vulnerable population in any extreme situations. This cohesion and the direction on the same way set us apart from many other institutions and organizations.

One day I met a woman called Sitora, from Turdiev jamoat (a Tajik administrative division) in Khamadoni district, Kathlon. She was left on a street with three kids and invalid parents by her husband, without any means of livelihood. The first time I saw her, she was completely lost, without a gleam in her eyes and dark thoughts to sell her organs to be able to pay food and a home for her family. It was difficult to convince her to participate in ACTED’s project, however after two years of active participation she totally changed her priorities and willing to further participate in ACTED’s project. Seven years later, I went back to Khamadoni district for a meeting with the chairman of the jamoat. The most shocking and at the same time rewarding moment was when I found out that this person I was supposed to meet was that sorrowful woman, with whom I met once, seven years before… For me, the most challenging as a humanitarian worker is the fact that we are not able to cover the needs of everyone who is vulnerable and needs help.”