Roman Madaus is an international relations student at Tufts University. He is volunteering for Project HOPE in Tajikistan for two months this summer in an effort to document the impact that HOPE’s work has had on the health care system of this nation.
The reason I’m here in Tajikistan is to write a report on the impact Project HOPE has had on health care in the country. We’re starting with diabetes, since Project HOPE, through the support of generous partners, has provided most of the reliable insulin in Tajikistan for the past decade. Already we’ve seen that the shipments have made a substantial difference. Each week we meet with doctors at various health institutes, and they tell us how Project HOPE’s donations have been affecting their work and the health and lives of their patients. Although the hospitals’ needs are great and we have not always been able to meet every one of them, all of the doctors we have met with have been very grateful for how Project HOPE’s shipments have allowed them to help their patients. Read about one of the latest shipments.
As for Tajikistan itself, Dushanbe may be hot and dry, but almost all its major streets are lined with old and tall trees, which make it a very pleasant city for walks. Many of the restaurants and all of the parks also have large fountains, which cool and dampen the air. In the evenings Tajiks of all ages and professions walk along the main street, Prospekt Rudaki. The women dress in very colorful traditional dresses, while the men usually dress in slacks, loafers, and collared shirts. Some of the younger people seem to prefer jeans and T-shirts, preferably with English slogans such as “FBI” or “Gucci.”
One of my favorite experiences in Tajikistan has been going to the bazaar. While the markets of the major European cities see millions of tourists every year, the Green Bazaar in Dushanbe hardly sees any, so it is incredibly authentic. Colorful mounds of spices stand next to huge burlap bags of fragrant rice, and everywhere there is fresh fruit and vegetables, much of it having made the harrowing drive through Death Tunnel from the country’s fertile north. Not speaking Tajik makes bargaining in the bazaar a bit difficult, but the universal language of emphatic hand gestures usually seems to suffice, and I always return home laden with fresh and dried fruits and nuts and usually an oddity or two, like a brand of detergent called “Barf.”
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