In Their Own Words: Scholarship Stories from Tajikistan

2018-03-27T19:49:26+00:00February 20th, 2018|Programs|9 Comments
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In Their Own Words: Scholarship Stories from Tajikistan

In Tajikistan, poverty is one of the largest barriers to higher education. All too often promising students must end their academic dreams early, or their families take out loans they can never pay back.

With help from donors, CAI’s partner in Tajikistan (CAIT) gives scholarships to students based on need and merit, ensuring poverty does not derail the dreams and careers of some of the country’s best and brightest students. Each applicant must submit their school grades and their family’s income information, complete an interview, and submit recommendations from village elders and teachers.

Most of the students receive scholarships to Khorog State University, where they study a variety of subjects from foreign languages, education, to history and economics. The students are grateful to receive scholarships that will not only help them achieve their dreams but also help care for their families.

We received several messages from students who wanted to tell their stories and send messages of thanks to CAI donors and supporters. We decided to let them tell those stories to you, in their own voices, for you. Keep reading to hear their incredible spirits as they tell you how they have conquered poverty, illness, and hardships to earn their scholarships and make it to university.

Jumakhonov Shasufbek – Studying Economics at Khorog State University

Life is so difficult and has its wave, sometimes you can see the wave and sometimes it disappears. Life has its paths and one has to find the right one. And you can find the right way only through learning and education. Knowledge can show you the right way to choose.  

Since my childhood, I have been enjoying reading and writing. I always learned new things from my grandfather who brought us up. As far as I remember I was thirsty of knowledge and always sought for new things. We (I and my two brothers) were living with our grandparents as our parents had to leave to Russia [to earn money]. We had everything besides parents’ love and care.  

I am the eldest child in my family. When I was on grade 11 my parents came back from Russia because the condition of life in Russia became difficult for the migrants, and it was hard for my parents to work there. After graduation from secondary school I was succeeded to enter Khorog  State University, Economy faculty (department). I was proud of becoming a student of this university, but from the other side, the tuition fee made me sad. As my family could not afford the tuition fee, they decided that I should not study this year because the only income of our family was my grandparents’ pension. But as the saying says, “Hope never dies.”

Once I was reading the local newspaper and by chance saw an advertisement of CAIT regarding scholarship for the needy students from remote areas. Something inside told me that “this is your chance.” So according to the advertisement, I have started to gather the necessary documents and in a short period submitted them all to the office of CAIT in Khorog town.  When after a month I had a call from CAIT regarding my acceptance to the scholarship, I was on the top of happiness. And that time I felt myself the luckiest person in the world. And also my grandparents and parents were so happy for me I saw the happiness in their eyes.

Taking the chance I would like to thank CAIT and its staff on behalf of myself and my family for giving me such a great chance to continue my study. In my turn, I promise to be the best student of the university and seek for knowledge.

support scholarships

The beautiful blossoms of an apricot tree in spring. In Tajikistan, many families try to earn a meager living off of plots of land, which produce little money for education.

Nekbakht Khujanazarova – Studying History at Khorog State University

I am Nekbakht Khujanazarova. I am from Roshorv village of Bartang Valley. Roshorv is one of the beautiful places of Bartang Valley. It has many historical places that attract the tourist to our valley. I was living in this beautiful village with my parents, my three sisters, my little brother, and my grandparents.

During our childhood, my grandfather told us different stories from his life and the difficulties they had to go through. We listened to him carefully. After his death, I told my siblings stories and helped my mother. My mother is a housekeeper, and my father is unemployed. He usually is busy with the small piece of land that we have. Usually in our village men are working in the fields, because there is no other kind of work. Although, this kind of work is not regular and one cannot earn enough money for life with this kind of work.

The stories of my grandfather inspired me for applying to the Khorog State University faculty (department) of History. When I entered to the university I was happy and proud, but I knew that my parent can never afford my tuition fee. I even did not know what to do. Fortunately, on TV my neighbor heard about CAIT scholarship for the students from low-income families and told me about it. She told me to apply, I have gathered my documents and submitted them to their office but I was not sure to be accepted by this organization. But I succeeded and now I know that the world is full of kind people who would like to help others. Thank you for your support.  

Nazrishoev Aslisho – Studying Economics at Khorog State University

My name is Aslisho. I am from Porshinev village of Shugnan District. I got my early education at school #14 named after Khusravsho Musrifshoev. In 2015 I entered Khorog State University, Economy faculty (department). Currently, I am a third-year student at Khorog State University. There are five people in my family, my parents, my two brothers, and me.

My father is a builder. He is a part-time employee. He is the only worker in our family, whose salary is not enough to support us. My little brother is six years old. My elder brother is a third-year student of medical college of Khorog town. It is really very difficult for one person to support five family members and pay the tuition fees of the students. We have taken loan and my father is still paying it back. I was trying to find any job and support my father but unfortunately, without diploma no one gave me a job. Thanks to the support of CAIT I can continue my study and inshallah (god willing) after graduation of the university will help my brothers to get education too.

Tajikistan learning

Education is important to most people in Tajikistan. Scholarships are often the only way poor students can achieve this dream.

Sarqulieva Amriya – Studying Foreign Language at Khorog State University

My name is Sarqulieva Amriya. I was born in 1998 in Razuj village of Bartang Valley. I come from a poor family. I grew up in a small house with my dad, mom, two sisters, and my two brothers. I am the eldest child in my family and my parents expect me to be more responsible and set a good example for my younger siblings. My parents expect me to study hard so that I could have a good job and provide income so that my younger siblings can go to a better university in the near future.

My father is a shepherd. My mother is a housewife. So it is difficult for them to support us. From my childhood I am trying to help my parents somehow. I learned how to knit scarf, jumpers, and gloves from my mother and sent them to the market for selling. With the money, which I earned, my mother bought food for us. After finishing school I decided to enter the Khorog State University faculty (department) of foreign languages, but my father and mother were against because of our financial problems.

There were several reasons of learning foreign language for me. First is that I always enjoyed studying books in Russian language. It gave me pleasure to learn something new, to get information in any field, and I believed that education broadens the mind. Secondly, I decided to be a Russian teacher from my childhood. I was insisting on passing the exams for the university, but I was worried about tuition fee. Also, the university is in Khorog town and I knew that I will need a place to live in.  I convinced my parents and was succeed to become a student of Khorog State University. My father borrowed money from our neighbors and relatives and paid for my first-year tuition fee. The first year at the university was the horrible year in my life. Also it was too difficult for me to live in Khorog with 6 strange girls in the dormitory. Moreover, my father could not give back the money borrowed for my first-year tuition fee and asked me to leave my university and help him to pay back the money.

I had to leave my university and went back home. Although I knew that it was the end and impossible I was dreaming of going back to Khorog and continue my study. In addition to all these problems my sister fell ill. I did not know what to do, we had no money even for medical checkup. That was the time in my life when I felt like a victim of circumstances. This was a horrible feeling when I felt powerless. With the help of some kind people we bought medicine for my sister. When I was taking care of my sister at home my teacher visited us and said that I should continue my study. But I just said, “how?” With a smile on his face he took a newspaper from his armpit and gave it to me. When I saw the advertisement about scholarship I was so excited but then I gave it back to the teacher and said: “it does not mean that they will give me scholarship, there are a lot of poor people in the world”. But my teacher wanted me to try. “Just try,” he said. With diffidence I have gathered my documents and send them to CAIT office.

When I had a call from CAIT office I kissed and hugged everyone in my family like a drunken person. Thanks to CAIT I can fulfill my dream and also will help my other siblings to get higher education. This amazing organization gave me hope again, and now I know that after every night there will be day.

Many students live in rural and isolated valleys and surrounded by breathtaking mountains.

These are just a few of the stories of students who would not be able to study without a scholarship. Thanks to thousands of CAI donors all over the world, their stories are not finished. If you want to learn more about supporting CAI scholarships, visit our page.

9 Comments

  1. Elaine February 21, 2018 at 10:14 am - Reply

    Hope is powerful. Thankful to CAI for providing it.

  2. Darlene Mitchell February 21, 2018 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Tears nothing but tears of joy and gratitude for these stories of inspiration these determined young people tell. I was a teacher of ESL for 30 years and have seen what a chance to rise up through education can do, especially for the impoverished whose hope seems dim. I’m not able to donate much but I know I must give something to support these scholarships. Hope + Dreams + Opportunity + Hard Work can move more people up this mountain of life we’re all trying to climb. We need to help each other more. Thank you CAIT for your vision. ❤️ Darlene

  3. Harry Green February 21, 2018 at 11:08 am - Reply

    I’ve been a supprter since Greg Mortenson started this program about 12 yrs ago and the stories shown here are beautiful. i’ve begun to feel depressed because of the powerful opposition by forces like the Taliban and other Moslem groups. I probably will continue to donate SMALL AMOUNTS WHEN i CAN BUT i JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW HOW SOME OF US FEEL.
    Good luck in the future and may your efforts bear fruits of enlightenment and progress in the future.
    Harry Green

    • Katie Smith February 21, 2018 at 12:43 pm - Reply

      Hi Harry,

      Thank you for your support and for voicing your feelings. We can feel the same way here when news of another bombing reaches us or another source of bad news. We worry about the people we work with, the schools, and the children. In those moments it can feel like our efforts are for not. Then, we’ll get stories like these or reports from teacher-trainings or vocational schools, and we know that we are in fact making a big difference. It’s also incredible to hear from supporters like you who believe in the power of education and know that without it, there is no chance for peace. We’ll continue to tell their stories and show your impact, after all, it’s people like you who choose to support love and education who are changing the world. Thank you for your words, and when you are feeling discouraged know that you are creating a lasting change and the next generations are going to do amazing things with education.

  4. Allan Morales February 21, 2018 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    Gray to hear these stories from the students themselves. Yes, there are many poor people in the world, but what can one person do given the opportunity to succeed, ishallah.

  5. Norma Gilbertson February 21, 2018 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    Their great stories give us hope for pockets of peace and hope for the future.
    Please empty your CAIT coffers every year. The Lord will provide.
    Norma in Minnesota

  6. Terry Hickman February 21, 2018 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    I love these determined and spirited students so much! Every time I donate I do so thinking, I hope they know there are people in the world who care about them and want them and their families to have better lives. Even if we never know each other or even see pictures of each other, I hope they and their parents can feel the love and hope we have for them. Thanks for sharing these heartening stories!

  7. Elaine Wilk February 21, 2018 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing these stories. It makes giving to CAI a very personal experience. We see who is getting help. It’s not just a faceless organization. It is the person-to-person connection that makes it so meaningful. Keep up the good work! We need good news in these times.

  8. Nancy Miller February 21, 2018 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    I’m another person sending thanks for the beautiful stories. It’s good to have hope and especially in these difficult times. I continue to believe that we can change the world through education. Thanks for all you do at CAI.

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