Lost a little momentum on the blog but we’re going to push on.
After my trip to the hospital I met a local who handles some of the programs at American Corners – a cultural center located in Dushanbe dedicated to bringing American culture to Dushanbe.
We chatted a little bit about Dushanbe, American Corners, and what its like to live in Dushanbe. I was taken with how frustrating it can be to live in a “re developing nation” – a term I heard used a few times in Tajikistan. Tajikistan was industrialized by the Soviets during their 60 year rule. When the Soviets left a lot the industry left with them and an economic vacuum opened in their wake. The country’s 5 year civil war only compounded the issue and as a result a lot of intelligent and educated people remained in a country with little industry to sustain them.
My friend “Bob” studied Russian literature in Khujund and eventually made his way to Moscow but was eventually forced out of the country by a capricious and arbitrary visa issue. Bob was really friendly and clearly highly educated. If he lived in a developed nation he would undoubtedly be doing very well for himself. In Tajikistan he does the best he can in a difficult situation.
I have a small technical issues in the video. I’m still adjusting to my 5D/H4 setup and inadvertently misplaced some synced files. As a result I’m forced to use the camera mic for a portion of the interview.
BobNazibaev Int from dcdocumentary on Vimeo.
Damian picks me up at 9:30 to attend a food donation ceremony at Tajikistan’s National TB Hospital. Since 1992 the US Embassy in Dushanbe has provided close to 984 million dollars in programs that help support Tajikistan’s democratic institutions, health care, education, and economic growth. Cultural Exchange programs are all well and good, but its nice to see that the embassy is providing real support for basic human needs in Tajikistan.
Today the US Embassy is donating 9,700 kilograms of dried lentils for patients at the hospital. According to USAID Tajikistan has the highest rate of TB in the the European Region. We speak to the head surgeon of the hospital and he explains that tuberculosis is a real problem. The hospital is considered to be among the best in the country and people travel hundreds of miles for treatment. Tajikistan’s TB problem is further compounded by poverty, underdeveloped infrastructure, and the migratory patterns of a workforce predominantly dependent on international remittances. It is encouraging to see that the Tajik government is taking the problems seriously, but worrisome that there aren’t more opportunities for treatment. International aid plays a substantial role in buttressing the health system, providing resources and encouraging domestic growth wherever possible.
The embassy put together this short video of the days events:
After the formal ceremony the surgeon invites the US Embassy delegation for a quick tea. They accept and I get to tag a long. Turns out it be quite a spread. Tajiks are extremely generous and are known to invite strangers into their homes. In this particular case, I get the feeling the the surgeon is hoping to show off his hospital in the hopes the Americans might look favorably upon their operation.