TAJIKISTAN: Abduholik Kamolov, Tajikistan, “Instead of going to school I work as a shoe polisher to help my Mum”

TAJIKISTAN: Abduholik Kamolov, Tajikistan, “Instead of going to school I work as a shoe polisher to help my Mum"



Photo: Fakhriniso Qurbonshoeva/IRIN
Eleven-year-old Abduholik (centre) refused to have his picture taken while working but rather asked for a "dignified photo" with his friends

DUSHANBE, 14 May 2007 (IRIN) – Every morning 11-year-old Abduholik Kamolov buys his supply of shoe polish. Originally from Vahdat district, 27km southeast of Dushanbe, he travels to the capital city with his mother, who carries milk and eggs for sale. With the little money he earns from shoe cleaning, he contributes to his family income.

“There is no flour at home to bake bread, and very little food. In our family we are often hungry. We eat meat only on holidays. We can only dream of good food or see tasty food in advertisements. There are seven in our family – my mother Saida, an older brother of 16 called Shokir, two sisters of 14 and 12, myself and two younger sisters of nine and eight. We eat food twice a day, in the morning before we go out to work and in the evening, when everybody gathers together. We have chickens at home but we take all the eggs to market. We sell eggs and milk to buy flour, rice, macaroni and soap. We may not afford sugar for months on end.

“There are very few places where one can earn good money in our village. A lot of people from our village left for Russia to look for jobs.

“My Dad migrated to Russia as well. While he was working on construction sites he was sending home about US$200 every three months for our family and relatives. But as a result of the hard working conditions and very cold climate he fell ill. He could not afford to get treatment there. He was ill for a long time and then died there. Now we have no one to feed our family.

“My mother is uneducated thus it is difficult for her to find a job and earn daily bread for her children. My mother suffers a lot. She often has to borrow sugar, tea and vegetable oil from relatives and neighbours. If she has to borrow frequently she sends us to them. She says she is embarrassed.

“My mother cannot pay for us to go to school or buy all the supplies necessary for studying. I am ashamed of my old clothes and shoes and do not go to school, especially when it is freezing cold in the winter. It gets so cold in the classroom that I cannot hold a pen in my hand.

''As a result of the hard working conditions and very cold climate [in Russia] he [my Dad] fell ill. He could not afford to get treatment there. He was ill for a long time and then died there. Now we have no one to feed our family.''

“Shokir dropped out of school upon completion of the ninth class because our mother needed help to support the family. He washes cars out on the main highway. He is paid 2-3 somoni [about 58 US cents] per car.

“To help my mother, I have started working as a shoe polisher. I make 30 diram [about 9 US cents] per client. On average I have 13 to 15 clients per day. I buy daily two tubes of polish – brown and black – each costing 1 somoni. The rest of my earnings I give to my Mum.

“My four sisters stay at home to help with housework. Their poverty is obvious from their clothes, footwear and general appearance. The only clothes available are very old. Our family cannot afford soap to wash clothes either.

“I was sick with flu last winter. After that my ears started to ache all the time. The doctor said I needed further medical treatment. But medicines are expensive. My mother is trying now to heal me with traditional medicines.

“I want the factories, plants and farms to start working again so our brothers and fathers will come home, and their children will be able to study.“

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