What “Welcome to Tajikistan” really means

By Donald Hart, KF12, Tajikistan 

Central Asia is famous for its hospitality.  As I set out for my fellowship in Tajikistan with minimal, (scratch that, zero) Russian or Tajik language ability – I had little else to rely on. 

My first week as a guest of Farrukh, one of the staff at Kiva’s Field Partner, Humo, has meant the following: 

  • Always being poured the first cup of tea among a group
  • Always being the first to be served a plate of food
  • Inviting me to stay at his home upon arrival
  • Opening his pantry to offer me food
  • Making over 20 calls to landlords to find me the right apartment
  • Translating the rental agreement for my apartment (and countless other things)

Were it not for these gracious actions from my host, living and working in this new city would have been immensely more difficult (my stash of 12 CLIF bars would have run out pretty quickly). 

While grateful for (and in need of) all the help, if I’m honest I initially bristled a bit at the extent of my dependence.   Generally, I had strived to be self-sufficient, to be independent – and now found myself in a position of vulnerability.  My first week in Tajikistan required me to recognize that vulnerability and embrace the role of honored (and reliant) guest.  It served as a reminder of how powerful a feeling it is to be helped – to be in a position of need and to have someone intercede on your behalf. 

My gracious host, Farrukh

When welcoming guests, Tajiks often use the expression “Ҳуш омадед, нури дида точи сар” – literally translated, “Welcome.  You are like the light of one’s eyes and a crown on one’s head.1”   Consider exercising your hospitality and making a loan to an entrepreneur in Tajikistan by clicking here. 

Donald Hart is a fellow serving in Tajikistan.  He hopes his fumbling words in Russian and Tajik transform into coherent sentences during his 3 month stay. 

1 A Beginner’s Guide to Tajiki by John Hayward

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