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Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs

by Operation Mercy
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs

In the Pamirs everyone is hot off the blocks as farmers busily prepare that land to make sure they have harvested enough by October to see them through the next winter. For the staff at Operation Mercy we know our working season is also short and implementing our plans to bring hope to the eight communities we work with is well under way.

Greenhouse Project:

Though it is the winter season, the Greenhouse project was by no means inactive!  This is a time of preparation for the upcoming growing season.  Here are some of the things that the greenhouse project has been doing:

  • Always seeking to increase the people we train and work with, the Greenhouse project has met up with a government official who is keenly interested in greenhouses. He has hoop greenhouses that he is using now for growing lettuce and green onions.  He has travelled to such places as Japan to see their greenhouse technology. He is keenly interested in sharing his experiences with our greenhouse partners. Diligent, he is comparing the seeds of four countries to see which is better:  Russia, the Netherlands, China, and Turkey. 
  • Nothing is free, and with that mentality we have had budget training with our partners. We have encouraged them in the important duty of money management, how to cover their costs. How to cover the costs of plastic, seeds, and other materials that are needed. To continue to develop, they need to do so without Operation Mercy’s financial assistance. 
  • The locals have a saying here, “Blessing comes from action”. When you cannot be doing labour outside, you can do it inside.  Now is the time to think through all the necessary things that the greenhouse needs.  Do they have the plastic?  Do they have the quality seeds?  Do the school house directions know who will watch their greenhouses?  We have discovered that the best trainings are not giving answers but asking questions so that they can discover their solutions to their problems.
  • It was privilege to see the greenhouse that we donated plastic to in an area with hot springs. Though not actually in one of our eight target communities, by donating the plastic to the Botanical Garden greenhouse we reaffirm our partnership with the government that we are seeking the welfare of the people around us.  

Fruit Project:

The snow in the Pamir Mountains has finally melted away, which means Operation Mercy’s Orchard Management and Fruit Processing project can begin its project activities for 2019.  This year, project partners from previous years have been appointed to take ownership of varying parts of the project within their own villages.  These partners have been assisting in Operation Mercy’s “Tree for Tree” and Tool for Tool” programs.  However, many trees their neighbours also plan to purchase from the local botanical gardens will be matched by Operation Mercy.  Likewise, if a partner purchases a tool of decent quality from a local shop, Operation Mercy will provide another without cost of the farmer. 

So far with the help of these ambitious farmers we have seen over 300 fruit trees planted throughout 5 different locations. The farmers are also equipped with previous trainings in pest management and fruit tree pruining. They will take the responsibility as a point person for these subjects as their neighbors take care of their newly planted trees. 

Community Health

Despite very heavy snowfall in Tajikistan this year, the roads have remained largely open this year. This has allowed the health team to get out to the distant villages in their efforts to support health workers reach their communities with much needed knowledge of health during pregnancy and childhood health issues.

Stories of positive behavioural changes and revelation of basic steps to improve health have come flooding in as our team supports two village health workers to train a group of seven women in childhood health issues. They are preparing for follow-up session on mental health issues, first aid and anti-biotic use as well as starting their project in new, even remoter, locations.




As the snow begins to pile up in the Pamirs (nearly 1m now) it is a good time to reflect on the last three months and how your donations have been put to work:


High Altitude Agriculture

Racing against the oncoming snow, the greenhouse project team have been very busy. Since the last report they have held training on vegetable preservation for the schools that we have supported in building greenhouses. This year our existing partners preserved more than 468 KG of vegetables between them. Next year we hope that the four schools we work with will be able to add to this total, providing vegetables to children throughout the winter.


They were also busy collecting the results of this year’s harvest. In total, more that 3,200 KG of produce was harvested across the 19 greenhouses. Some of these greenhouses were only completed half way through the growing season, so the harvest of any vegetables at all is a huge triumph.


The greenhouse guys teamed up with the fruit project to carry out a pruning training for greenhouse partners and their neighbours who were interested. This came from a request by one of our partners who has used money earned from his greenhouse to plant an orchard.


Orchard Improvement and Fruit Processing

When they weren’t helping out their friends on the greenhouse project, the fruit team spent the majority of their time meeting up with partners, who are juicing, in order to get a count of how much was made in 2018.  They also discussed goals, what went well, and what could be improved.


They followed up with groups who have been pruning this year and/or have been experimenting with managing pests. 


Community Health

The health team have completed a block of fourteen lessons with village women helping the health workers learn the techniques and topics needed for them to do this independently of Operation Mercy in the future. They also held one-off sessions for nurses they previously worked with on pre-eclampsia, a much misunderstood condition; and sessions for mother-in-laws, who are the gatekeepers of knowledge and change in the family, on issues they have raised as being important.



There is much excitement over what 2019 holds. The health project, amongst many other things, is excited about the opportunities to train health workers in regional hospitals on the basic topics they have been covering in villages and instilling in them the value of health education. The High Altitude Agricultural project is excited about the new composting and soil care component they are planning, that could begin to revolutionise the way waste organic matter is dealt with from the bazaar in Khorog. The fruit project is excited about extending the benefits of juicing to new and more remote communities and seeing the ‘Tree for Tree’ programme increasing the number of fruit trees in the Pamirs.


We couldn’t do any of this without your support!

Teaching greenouse keeping to children in village
Teaching greenouse keeping to children in village

‘Participation’ – a word that often gets banded around in international development circles. For our projects it is fundamental to seeing the people in the eight communities navigate their way out of poverty. Participation by the community in identifying the challenges they face and the assets available to them, participation in the analysis of this factors, participation in the dreams of a better future and the road to get there, and participation in the change.


Community Health


The health project has been using tools to maximise participation for a number of years and these have led them for district level nurses. From the tools we discovered that in order for our work at the village level to be really sustainable and effective, the district level health workers must be part of the journey. The head nurse and other nurses told us that this was the first time in ages that anyone had seen them as important enough to give them a training. They were excited that this information is easy to learn and implement.


One nurse shared with us that: “We did our learning long time ago and we didn’t know about the new information.” They said they will explain the information to the patients first, and share with family and friends. They went back to their work full of hope that we will be back to them with new topics very soon.


Another nurse shared: “After the anaemia lesson, learning about the symptoms of anaemia, I started to think I have all of them. I decided to take my Hbp level and take iron tabs. And have everyday food with product that contains iron.  I set that as my goal to achieve between lessons.”


One of her colleagues mentioned that she and many women she knows have habit of eating coal, soil, cardboard, dry rice, and other things to reduce anaemia. She said after this lessons she stopped eating the coal. "I will share information about the anaemia to the women and friends that I know that have this habit."


High Altitude Agriculture


On the greenhouse project we have completed two new designs of greenhouse we hope will greatly reduce the costs for local people to complete their own, using their own funds. These greenhouses are currently harvesting the last of their cucumbers and tomatoes. It is really exciting to see the hope in these communities as they can grow fresh vegetables at these altitudes for the first time.


This is also the first year that four of the schools we have been working with have been able to get a crop from their new greenhouses. We have been supporting them with training on growing vegetables and are looking forward to reporting on their total yields in the next report.


Orchard Improvement and Fruit Processing


The fruit project continues to support the juicing businesses through business training and mentoring as well as a loan for packaging. Staff absences have meant that the orchard training plan has had to be scaled back this year and the project continues to work with local people to assess the best way forward to help our communities make the most of their much loved and needed fruit trees.



So much bad news! Everyday it seems we get bombarded with bad news on our televisions, on our phones, in the papers. Well Operation Mercy and our eight communities have been creating some good news that we would like to share with you.


High Altitude Agriculture

Our main effort since the last report is to complete two new greenhouses. These are an experimental design and could reduce the cost of our existing design by $800 making it much more affordable for people in the Pamir mountains to grow fresh vegetables.

We also had a visit from a veterinary doctor and community trainer from a partner organisation in Kyrgyzstan. Together we visited livestock owners and government veterinarians in the communities we work with. We spent time trying to understand the issues that the livestock and their owners are facing and working on some possible solutions. We hope that we will be able to carry out some specific training and support later in the year.

Finally, we have been monitoring the greenhouses we built last year with schools. Despite some teething problems, growing is well underway and it looks like it will be a good harvest.


Community Health

In the Pamirs, little new information or improved practice will get through to mothers and children unless the mother-in-law agrees. This last month we have been focusing on 16 mothers-in-law in one of our communities to help them understand the information we are sharing with their daughters-in-law. We have seen some real breakthrough where women, previously very suspicious of our work and approach, now want to attend the lessons themselves.

We helped four schools in villages we work with hold International Children's Day celebrations. This is normally widely celebrated in Tajikistan however, in the more remote schools, it is forgotten or written off as a waste of precious money. We have planned affordable and educational fun-days, together with the health workers in the village, to demonstrate that an affordable celebration of children is possible.


Orchard Improvement and Fruit Processing

In the past months we have been focusing on supporting our partners with all they need to make a success of the coming juicing season. Helping order new packaging from China and offering training on small business accounting and marketing has been key.


Results of our winter stove trial
Results of our winter stove trial

Since the last report the snows have begun to melt and there has been a rush of frantic activity as the projects build up steam for the coming season.


The fruit project has been working hard with our partner farmers to finalise a design for the next run of packaging which is now ordered. We have also helped the farmers start to develop a website for the juice. You can track its progress at the link below.

On the orchard side, we have been carrying out trainings into pruning and natural methods of pest control. 

The pen is mightier than the sword” (Edward Bulwer-Lytton). In Community Development work this is a powerful truth and a successful facilitator works hard to place the pen into the hands of the participants.

The Play: Orchard Training

The Scene: The Beautiful Roshkala Valley

The Act: Summer Pruning

Enter Ivan. Declaring this his 3rd training and eager to show his accumulation of knowledge and the practical outworking of his learning; he grabbed the pen, and began drawing branches and situations which require pruning in the summertime.

The 24 participants eagerly lapped up the knowledge he was sharing. Here was a respected “one of their own” showing that he was both able to learn and willing to share.

Last year, one of my own colleagues who lives up the Roshkala Valley brought some apples to share with the office staff. I was amazed. I only hope that one of you reading this, will one day be able to share in the fruitful abundance of this valley. Until then, keep cheering on the farmers who are improving their communities, one apple tree at a time.



In the health project we have been teaching on health issues during pregnancy in a new village. One thing we have come to realise is that without the mothers-in-law on board the new knowledge the women are gaining is unlikely to be implemented so we have started working more closely with them as we move forward. 


Greenhouses and High Altitude Agriculture

We have been busy carrying out trainings and partner meetings since the last report. We have trained the greenhouse keepers in the brand-new school greenhouses how to get started, we have carried our phase two training for those school greenhouses who will be entering their second growing season, and we have had a great time with our longest running partners as they share new ideas and problem solve some of the issues they faced last year.

The stove trial for growing throughout the winter in a greenhouse was a big success in terms of crop - we now need to calculate whether is make financial sense considering the fuel and initial investment.


REMEMBER: For blow by blow updates of what we are doing check out our facebook page (link below)


Looking forward and the resourcing situation

As we look forward to the rest of the year we have exciting plans for celebrating International Children's Day in remote villages, building experimental greenhouses, training more fruit farmers, holding a young farmer's club and much much more. We are also having to turn our attention to fundraising again. Your generous donations have allowed us to get from October to May! We are still needing funds to get us from May to December. So all fundraising suggestions are gratefully accepted.



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Organization Information

Operation Mercy

Location: Orebro - Sweden
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Jonathan Hibbert-Hingston
Orebro, Sweden
$32,555 raised of $60,000 goal
194 donations
$27,445 to go
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