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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
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Transforming 8 Communities in the Pamirs
Health Lessons
Health Lessons

                If anything, 2020 is a year of change, and even our office in the mountains of Central Asia has experienced change prior to a global pandemic. One of our long-term local staff has left and that has greatly challenged our capacity in the health project. We will experience even more changes in the upcoming months. But one thing a global pandemic does not change: People’s needs.   From our ancestors of hunter-gatherers to now, we always need food. People, now more aware than ever, need quality healthcare. You can challenge, but you cannot change, those needs, and that is where our projects come in, and where you, our donors and supporters come in.  Thank you for being loyal supporters in a time of need that is global. 

                Though we have been preparing this year’s work and getting the necessary government permissions, here are some news from the mountains of Central Asia.

It's about me! Health Project

                There was a pretend sample story we had Amina read in front of the entire group. Amina was reading the story sentence by sentence. After each sentence she said “Oh, it's me! It's about me. It's about my mother-in-law!” She also said, “Who did you talk to who told you my story?” She was laughing very hard after each sentence and after each sentence kept saying, over and over, “It's me! It's about me.” The whole group thought it was funny and enjoyed that Amina felt connected to the story.

After the lesson, during the goal-setting time, the facilitator asked her what was new for her. She said that the story (of a fictional character named Shamsia) was very real for her and it was about her own life. At the time when Amina was pregnant (both times as she was pregnant twice) she didn't know what was happening. Now that she heard this story and learned today of the symptoms of anemia and ways to prevent it, she is excited to share this information with the other people in her village. Amina felt enthusiastic to share this information with as many pregnant women as she could. Her sister is not yet married but hopes to be and Amina wants to share it with her. She also wants to share the information with her neighbors and her two sons who one day may get married.

What do you think? Greenhouse Project

                We were in for a surprise when we came in our yearly visits to the government offices.  We talked about our plans this year and then we were taken by surprise:  We were asked by the city government for advice on building a government greenhouse. The city government doesn’t want to order flowers for beautifying the parks from the capital city. They want to grow their own flowers and potentially save thousands of dollars. Though we didn't build the greenhouse we were able to offer advice on how to get the most from their greenhouse and strengthen our relationship with this key stakeholder.

 

 

 

  

Greenhouse we are advising on
Greenhouse we are advising on
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A new decade! As we all reflect on the last ten years and ponder what the next ten years have in store, those in the communities where we work have a number of things to be hopeful for. New greenhouses are increasing the options of a balanced diet and the levels of agricultural knowledge, women’s health groups are spreading simple but life-saving actions to improve health. But most of all they have an increasing realisation of the resources they have at their disposal and of what they can achieve together.

 

Greenhouse project

 

We have been busy monitoring the greenhouses in two valleys, both school greenhouses and a private ones. We find that regular monitoring helps build a strong relationship with our partners allowing for regular feedback, ongoing training, and quick resolutions to problems they may be facing.            

 

We conducted a phone survey with all our partners in the Ghund and Shokhdara valleys. We conducted the surveys at the end of the year, when all famers have harvested their crop. The best outcome we had was shown by project partner with more than 700 kg of crop from 56 m3 hothouse at 3200-meter elevation that we assisted with plastic and training.

 

We held a partners meeting with our newer or struggling partners. We invited to our meeting an experienced farmer as a local adviser. The project aim has always been self-sufficiency by promoting our local partners continuously. This meeting helped us to make stronger relationships with our partners, learning from mistakes, sharing ideas, comparing results, and creating plans. We hope to encourage and challenge our famers and aim for being more independent or totally independent from the project in the near future.

 

We continue to work on new, more affordable greenhouse designs.

 

Health project

 

Zamira is a young mother of three children, living in difficult circumstances. Her husband working in Russia since there are few work opportunities in the remote mountain area where they live. As a child she longed to become a medical doctor and always had a thirst for knowledge. Her family circumstances didn't apply for her to go to medical college because of the cost involved. She loved having the opportunity to attend our lessons relating to childhood illnesses and maternal health topics. Her thirst for knowledge hadn't left her, and she used the knowledge she gained to share with her family and the people of her village.  

           

 

One day her sister called her to say she was on her way to the Doctor with her son, because he had ear ache. Zamira asked about the symptoms and explained to her sister that this can happen after the cold if he has been blowing his nose really hard as is the custom where they live. The next day having been to the doctor, Zamira's sister phoned to ask her how she was so knowledgeable about ear ache. She explained that she is participating in the training with Operation Mercy where they learn about childhood illnesses and recommended to her sister participate in such trainings. After this Zamira felt happy and proud that she could recognise some of the health problems and ways of preventing them. And that because of this she was not only in position to help her own family but other's too.

 

 

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Training with experts
Training with experts

It has been a busy quarter for the projects and for the team of supporters around the world. A former colleague, Caroline, walked hundreds of miles across the wilderness of the Highlands of Scotland to raise money for the wilderness of Tajikistan. She raised over £2,000 ($2,400)! And a visiting family to the Pamirs helped us to gain points on Global Giving with a photograph that was shortlisted for the annual competition.

 

In the field, the work with communities has been busy as well. The greenhouse project has had a visit from an evaluator who has carried out participatory research with our partners. This has given us areas for improvement but has also confirmed that this solution is rapidly moving toward making a sustainable change to the lives in the communities in which we work.

 

Continued monitoring of the greenhouses as well as carrying out continued training using the knowledge of local experts has literally born out amazing fruit. We have completed a greenhouse with what is one of the most isolated and marginalised communities in the region and we have delivered glass jars and preservation training that will allow communities to store vegetables for school children to enjoy this winter. Finally, we continue to refine and redesign the greenhouse to make it more affordable and accessible to more people.

 

The health project continues to tackle some of the root causes to poor child health by equipping hospital workers with knowledge on childhood illnesses and the with skills to become educators on these subjects to village women. Again we are using participatory tools in the hospital and in the villages to continually build community, reinforce accurate knowledge, as well as to evaluate our techniques and progress.

 

There have been a number of staff changes in our little office that have had some impact on the project work. The two international staff members working on the fruit project have sadly had to say goodbye to Tajikistan and return to their home countries. This has meant we will most likely have to suspend this project from the New Year. Nevertheless we are convinced that the work that was started will continue to have an impact far into the future. But at the same time we have been able to welcome a new international member of staff onto the health project. She joins a wonderfully committed, passionate and experienced team of local staff.

 

Thanks for your continued support. We look forward to sharing more stories with you as we come toward the end of the year. Please let us know if you would like to help us by raising awareness and/or funds toward this work over the festive period. Without the generous support of individuals, this work would stop overnight.

Delivering storeage jars
Delivering storeage jars
Family fun
Family fun
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A health lesson
A health lesson

Work has begun in earnest over the last three months. Continued support of community initiatives has yielded much fruit - literally, in some cases.

Health Project

The health project continues to train and equip health workers to spread knowledge of good hygiene practices as part of their preventative approach to childhood illness. Here is one story from Madina:

Dilafruz has 3-children the youngest is her son who is studying in the secondary school in the 2nd grade. Once he came to the medpoint to see his mother’s lessons and he found it very interesting. After each lesson he asked his mother what she has been learning.

Dilafruz always shared information with her family. After one of the lessons about worms she explained to him about of types of worms and the ways of spreading them and showed him the pictures which she was drawing during the lesson to her notebook. Her son liked the information and started to draw some types of worms to his notebook too. Later he showed pictures to his friends at school. He explained how the worms can spread from one person to other. Before he had a habit of not to cut the nails and to wash the hands. Now Dilafruz hasn’t problem with cutting his nails and washing his hands with soap. He does this just by himself and reminds others to wash their hands.

As well as carrying out 28 lessons and activities with groups of women and health workers, the team have also assisted the health workers in carrying out educational celebration days in schools. World Children’s Day was on the 1st June and we enabled over 160 children in five locations to take part – many for the first time.

High Altitude Agriculture

It has been a busy time for the greenhouse project too:

  • Budget training is essential part for project partners. Calculating and understanding the general daily costs makes life easier for farmers. The first part of training was about how to create a budget (family budget, business budget and personal budget). On second session illustrated the basic financial knowledge and yearly expenses of green house. Creating a budget assisted each farmer to be aware of all of the expenditures (monthly, half year, yearly) and assisted in the prediction of their financial situation for betterment of life quality. 
  • Canning training was improving skills of farmers. Getting knowledge in such a training with the experienced trainer improves confidence for preservation and also gives our partners’ communities experience/knowledge.
  • We have also assisted in the moving of one of the greenhouses to a better location in the village to improve productivity for next year. Natural disasters like rockfalls brought challenges for the greenhouse at the school in the first years.
  • We helped procure supplies for the construction of greenhouse at the furthest village of Shokhdara valley: Javshangoz village. We hope our new design will bring an opportunity for local farmers at an affordable price. The project started working at this village with the aim to improve nutrition and create the opportunity to grow vegetables which are impossible to grow outside.
  • We are always trying to improve at Operation Mercy.  With a short-term volunteer, we were able to conduct interviews with our partners to improve our project.  We have asked both private and community partners and through his research, we will glean new information to develop ourselves and partners.   

 

 

 

Budget Training
Budget Training
The village at the end of the valley
The village at the end of the valley
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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.

  

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Organization Information

Operation Mercy

Location: Orebro - Sweden
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Jonathan Hibbert-Hingston
Orebro, Sweden
$36,956 raised of $60,000 goal
 
270 donations
$23,044 to go
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