Keeping the ‘Stans Straight, part 4: Tajikistan


Location: Shares an eastern border with China and a southern border with Afghanistan.

Capital: Dushanbe

In a nutshell: This small, mountainous ex-Soviet republic has historically been one of the poorest of the Central Asian republics, thanks in part to a civil war that lasted from 1992-1997; however, its economy has steadily improved in the last several years. Tajikistan’s culture has much in common with Persian culture, and Tajik, the official language, is a variation of Persian. Brush up before you go.

How you know it: You don’t.

Interesting factoid: In 1987, Dushanbe’s mayor announced that his city would give their sister city, Boulder, Colorado, a traditional Tajik teahouse. It was built by 40 artisans in Tajikistan and shipped to Boulder in 200 separate crates. Though some assembly was required, the teahouse is now a beautiful, must-visit Boulder landmark. Almost ten years later, Boulder is paying Dushanbe back by building them an internet cafe. Well, better late than never.

Make sure to check out: The Pamir Mountains, some of the world’s highest and breathtakingly beautiful.

More from this series: Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan.

Photo of the Day (12/27/07)

This photo encapsulates everything I love about travel, especially those odd moments where you get mixed in with the locals and have to endure an entire different way of life just to get from Point A to Point B. And just look at that desolate landscape. There’s probably not a McDonald’s for at least another mile!

According to Teokaye, who snapped this wonderful shot, the truck (or carriage?) is full of “Wakhis on the way to the hi-altitude summer pastures to tend to family livestock. This road follows the border – Tajikistan is to the left, Afghanistan, to the right.”

And then Teokaye asks us, “Can you spot the American?” I think I can, can you?

Gadling buys a cow!

We did it. We bought a cow.

Well, sort of. Technically we loaned Mirov Zarobiddin the money so that he could buy the cow himself. We did this through an organization called Kiva, a nonprofit that organizes micro loans in developing countries to aspiring entrepreneurs.

We posted about this last week (for more information, click here) and asked our readers for some advice on who we should give a loan to. The idea was that this was an opportunity for travelers to give back to the world at large–a “thank you” if you will, for all the kindness and goodwill encountered in third world nations while traveling abroad.
The only problem is that Kiva has recently received some great press for the fantastic service they provide and all of the candidates we spotlighted last week received their loans within a day or two.

So, we improvised.

I went back to the site and decided to focus upon Tajikistan, a wonderful, but challenging country I visited a few years ago that was peopled with a tough, hard working populace who were handed the short end of the straw when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Amongst the local candidates seeking loans, was Mirov, a 45-year old father of three who is looking to purchase two heads of cattle. Mirov plans to fatten the cattle over the course of 40-45 days and then sell them for a profit. But that’s not all. Mirov has worked out the math and will repeat the process for the next 12 months–the duration of the loan. At the end of the year, he hopes to have made a profit of 3 heads of cattle and to have fully paid off his loan.

One of the great benefits of Kiva is that they provide semi-regular updates about those who have received loans. In this manner, lenders can see the immediate impact of their loans and how they are making life just a little bit better on the other side of our planet.

And so, as we receive these updates regarding Mirov, we will share them with you. In return, if you plan on traveling to Tajikistan in the near future, perhaps you can stop by and visit our cows.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Help Gadling buy this woman a cow

If you’ve ever traveled to a third world country and fell in love with its people, you know that feeling of guilt that inevitably arises when you realize just how difficult life can be for those less privileged than you.

Most travelers caught up in this epiphany often wonder what they can do to help, how can they give something back to the wonderful locals who made their trip so memorable? Unfortunately, so many of us return from our travels with good intentions, but poor follow-through.

If this happens to be you, than today is your lucky day; Gadling is here to help and it’s not going to cost you a thing.

Just in time for the Holidays, Gadling is teaming up with Kiva, a unique non-profit that provides micro loans to “help the world’s working poor make great strides towards economic independence.”

The concept is simple. Local entrepreneurs contact Kiva’s field partners around the globe requesting small loans to help out their businesses–which are often not much more than a single cow or perhaps a roadside stand selling melons. The field partners determine risk, and if acceptable, will then post a description of the loan on the Kiva website. In addition, the field partners will also post information about the borrower, thus adding a human face to the transaction.

Anyone interested in providing a micro loan can then sign on to the Kiva website and lend money ($25 minimum) to the entrepreneur(s) of their choice.

So this is where you come in. Gadling is looking for your guidance to help direct our loan to a deserving individual whose business we will then spotlight over the next 8-12 months while the loan is being repaid.

We’ve included six choices below (with descriptions provided by Kiva) but feel free to visit the website and expand the selection. Loans surprisingly move quickly on this popular site–Fatima Huseynova featured in the photo above just received money for her cow last week–so let’s hear your thoughts in the comments section below as quickly as possible and we’ll announce our choice next week.

Alisher Musoev has been in the bakery business for 7 years. So that he could provide for his family, he started working as a trainee in one of the local bakeries at the age of 16. For one work shift that usually lasted 17 hours he was only paid 6 to 7 loafs of bread, which was not enough for his family. He started looking for a space so he could open his own business. Once he found one, he started his own bakery. In the beginning, he was only baking for special orders for weddings because he was short of cash. After a period of time, when he accumulated more funds, he started producing bread for the sales on the market. Currently, his father and two hired employees, who are paid 450 somoni, are helping him in the business. Alisher is asking for additional funding so that he could increase his production.

Mrs. Sout Sro Em, age 25, is a traditional musician, earning around $5 each day. Her husband works driving a trailer attached to a motor-bike to transport passengers, making about $4 per day. They have one child who is too young to attend school. She would like to request a loan of $1000 in order seek an additional income source by purchasing pigs to breed and sell. She also plans to fix her husband’s broken trailer so he can better operate his business.

Fatima is a 47 year old mother of four children. Fatima is a very serious and committed microentrepreneur. She lives in South Lebanon, in the region of Saida. Fatima works with her husband cooking falafel, chickpeas and beans. She needs a loan of $1200 to buy a new chickpea processor and provisions for the business. This is the sixth time Fatima is asking for a loan from Al Majmoua.

Farming and the production of fruits are the main activity of most of the settlers of the Peruvian forest. Don Rolando is one of these men, who learned from his parents the skills and secrets of this beautiful activity. This education has now allowed him to be a man with multiple skills for agriculture and most of all it has allowed him to support his dear family in these days of multiple economic problems. He has a partner and his desire is to get married and build a small house and condition it to open a small grocery store to help with the expenses of the house. He is asking for a loan that will allow Rolando to have a bigger income this year and achieve all these goals.

I am Amna Bibi. I am a mother of six: four boys and two girls. Currently, only the elder two attend school while the others are too small. My husband works for skimpy pay and I own a few cows and sell their milk. Last year, I took a loan for my business, which resulted in increased profits, and I was able to save $250. Now I wish to further expand my business and require a loan of $350 for this purpose.

Djeyhun (his sister is pictured) has his own business. He was born in 1984 and lives in the Salyan region in the village of Yenikand. This man is single. He has been in this business for 8 years. Now he needs a loan of $1,200 to buy foodstuffs for improving his business.

Photo of the Day (11/16/07)

Rugged mountains, an unpaved road, a strange make of automobile. Nothing smells of adventure more than the three elements mentioned above and captured so perfectly in this photo by Uncorneredmarket.

What does the road ahead hold for these passengers and what grand times have already been left in their dust? I wish I knew, and I wish I were there.

This particular slice of the adventurous life was captured en route to Murghab, along the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan. If you’d like your similarly brilliant photos considered for Photo of the Day, visit our Gadling Flickr Pool and upload away.