Matthew Reed - Tajikistan
The first images I am presented with this afternoon are of young people trekking in the Tajik mountains. Some of my most formative days as child were spent walking in mountains my attention is immediately captured.
Magareta Boutoiva, director of Zumrad, talks me through her work. This is a scheme we support working with orphans and abandoned children who either reside in the notorious Internats or chance it on the streets. The sewing, IT and language skills young people learn at Zumrad are deployed in making mountain trekking kit including rucksacks, sleeping bags, tents and clothes. They then go for weeks at a time into the mountains for ecological and self sufficiency instruction. The group of young people are gathered to meet are animated in their enthusiasm for the scheme, and describe have how through it they have grown in self confidence. Some of these teenagers will hope to use the sewing, trekking and language skills they have learnt for future employment; the perpetual benefits though are reinstalled faith in themselves and others. They invite me to return to Tajikistan and trek with them, an invitation I would love to accept.
In Britain and Ireland we are having a renewed effort to energise younger people to know more about poverty and injustice and be part of generating solutions. In a few weeks time our 15 new Gap year volunteers will be here in Tajikistan and will see the work for themselves. A conversation emerges of bringing some teenagers from Britain and Ireland to share in a summer trek through the Tajik hills with these young Tajiks. I intuitively warm to the idea and we agree to work on it further.