Is that even a real country? Q and A about Tajikistan

As one of the new Kiva Fellows who will be in the field by the end of month, I bubble with excitement about going to a foreign country and helping Kiva. I tell anyone who asks that I am going to Tajikistan, usually with a big smile, or at least excitement in my voice.

People usually look at me with the squinty eyed pondering look, then I get asked a lot of the same questions:

1. What country is that?

2. Is that even a real country???

3. Ok, ok, so if it is real, where is it?

4. How do you spell that?

5. Why do you want to go there?

I do not assume many people actually know where Tajikistan is. After all, before the Soviet Union, it didn’t exist under its current borders, ever. And though it has been a few decades since the Soviet Union collapsed (those entering college this year never had the Soviet Union in the news. EVER), Tajikistan was ignored at the beginning because of a Civil War, and then because the countries around it were much more interesting for journalists.

So I would like to take this time to answer the questions:

1. -The country is Tajikistan.

2. -Yes, it is a real country, with a real government, with their own language, and like all countries its own set of unique problems.

3. – Take out a map of the most volatile part of the world. Find Afghanistan. Got it? Tajikistan is North of that. Ok now find Western China. Got that? Good, Tajikistan is just west of that. Now for a few harder countries. Find Kyrgyzstan (that’s the country most recently in the news due to ethnic unrest). Ok got that one, it is south of that. Now do you see Uzbekistan? (this country was in the news a lot in 2005-2006) Ok. Tajikistan is south, and east of this country. As you can see Tajikistan lives in an interesting Neighborhood.

4. – haha sure I can spell it: T.A.J.I.K.I.S.T.A.N. I can spell the capital as well if you want.

5. -I asked to be sent here for my Kiva Fellows assignment. This country is one of the least understood in the world. Its hidden from most newspapers, text books make only passing notes about it, even finding books in English about it is HARD. (I think I now own all of them… its about 15 really) This is the home of the Farsi based language Tajik, and some of the earliest Muslim people in the region (according to their history books), it’s the place where Alexander the Great got married to his bride Roxann (played by Rosario Dawson in the most recent big budget  Alexander the Great movie), and after 5 years of civil war, it has had peace which has held up really well, especially considering all the different forces pushing the country at all times. Plus who wouldn’t want to walk in the Pamir mountains, which Marco Polo said were “so high and so cold that no birds flew”?

To me, this country isn’t dangerous, it is just not really understood. I want to go there to show the beauty as well as the ugliness, the stories, and the gifts that I know Tajikistan has to offer. And what better way then with Kiva.

If you have any questions about Tajikistan, or Central Asia in general, please feel free to ask me while I am in the field. If I do not know the answer, I will be more than happy to try to find out.

By Sam Kendall KF12 Tajikistan

Kiva currently has two partners in Tajikistan, please make a loan to one of the many people in Tajikistan.

And be sure to follow me and one other Kiva Fellow in Tajikistan on this blog.

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