Tajikistan: Ongoing Efforts to Support Persons with Disabilities

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Tajikistan’s independence from the former Soviet Union. Despite the developments Tajikistan has made since the five years of civil war that erupted following its independence in 1991, the status of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in society still remains tenuous at best. Public facilities are not barrier-free, and there has been little improvement in the employment rate of PWDs. AAR JAPAN, the only Japanese NGO in Tajikistan, has been engaged in activities based in Dushanbe, the nation’s capital, to support PWDs.

Home Visits for PWDs

Mr. KONO, right, an occupational therapist, listens to Ms. Nargiz YUSUPOVA during a visit to her home

AAR JAPAN invited Mr. Makoto KONO, an occupational therapist and medical specialist from the health department of Kyorin University, to conduct in-home counseling for PWDs. The objective was to give consultation and rehabilitation instructions to Tajikistani PWDs, who tend to stay at home.

AAR JAPAN has been supporting the Federation for Persons with Disabilities; and one of their staff accompanied us during our consultation visits. The Federation staff member observed Mr. KONO’s consultation skills and worked with him in order to become capable of making visits on his own.

On August 2nd, along with Mr. KONO and the Federation staff member, I visited Ms. Nargiz YUSUPOVA (19 years old) at her house. Ms. YUSUPOVA has osteogenesis imperfect congenital, or brittle bone disease, which causes her difficulty walking, with the result that she spends most of her life at home. Listening to her story, we discovered that Ms. YUSUPOVA has excellent coordination and makes bead accessories. Mr. KONO suggested that she come to sewing classes organized by the Federation, adding, “Instead of staying home because of your disability, why not use your talents and get outside more often?” advised Mr. KONO.

Advancing PWDs’ Social Participation through Vocational Training

The sewing classes Mr. KONO recommended are held in Dushanbe, coordinated by the Federation for Persons with Disabilities and AAR JAPAN. By instructing PWDs and their families in the method of making traditional Tajik clothing, the classes help them generate income and support themselves. We also hold cooking classes and gardening courses. In the classes, participants not only learn the income generating skills, but also expand their social circles by meeting the other participants.

Ms. RAHIMOVA, right, participates in a cooking class. She has two children with disabilities. “I met other mothers in a similar situation, and I learned that I’m not alone,” she told us.

Training Skilled Staff with Up-to-Date Rehabilitation Techniques

Mr. KONO, left, demonstrates rehabilitation techniques at a general rehabilitation center in Dushanbe

During his stay in Tajikistan, Mr. KONO held rehabilitation training seminars for staff at four of the medical facilities for PWDs. General medical knowledge in Tajikistan has made few advancements since the time of the former Soviet Union, and the latest rehabilitation techniques are little known. In order to transfer this knowledge to the people of Tajikistan, Mr. KONO carefully demonstrated and explained the latest techniques with doctors and staff at each facility participating eagerly. One of the doctors who participated in Mr. KONO’s rehabilitation seminar rejoiced, exclaiming that he had learned a great deal from the seminar and gained new knowledge.

Moving Forward Together with PWDs

After her consultation session, Ms. YUSUPOVA started to attend sewing classes twice a week and was already bringing some of her hand-made accessories to the market held at the headquarters of the Federation for Persons with Disabilities on August 30th.  

I hope that many PWDs in Tajikistan will be able to increase their social participation by using their own talents and skills as Ms. YUSUPOVA has done. To achieve this goal, it is important to create both a society and an environment where PWDs can go out without unnecessary difficulty. A number of obstacles remain before such an environment can be created, but AAR JAPAN is committed to continuing its efforts in cooperation with PWDs.
Dr. LOLA, right, of the general rehabilitation center, participated in Mr. KONO’s seminar. She said, “It was a great learning opportunity, and I asked many questions.” At center is Ayumi YASUDA, AAR JAPAN staff in Tajikistan with Shahlokhon MAYUSUPOVA, AAR JAPAN’ local staff.

* This project has been made possible thanks to a grant from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects in addition to generous individual donations.

Ayumi YASUDA, AAR JAPAN Tajikistan office
Has been working in the Dushanbe office since May, 2011. After graduating from university, she worked in Nepal as a Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer, then, joined AAR JAPAN. Dedicated herself to the relief operations in Tohoku, Japan until April, 2011. (Born in Miyagi Prefecture)