Azizullo Ismatov never was enough lucky to get a proper education and while a child had to help his father to run an eatery in his home district Kushoniyon in south of Tajikistan. Years later this experience added by life lessons in the Russian Federation would help him to run his and his family’s life.
Azizullo lost his father and at his early twenties had to head a family then consisted of mother and a younger sister. As absolute most of rural young men in Tajikistan he saw the only way to provide for the family in labour migration abroad, where he’d take any odd job. During the next eight years Azizullo would come back and forth working in the Russian cities and returning home only to get married and to spend some months with family. In 2016 the Russian authorities banned him to re-enter the country. Azizullo is barely able to write even his name, so no surprise that hardening and constantly changing Russian migration legislation hit him.
The Russian ban and unemployment in Tajikistan impacted the life of not only a 26-years old Azizullo, but also his old mother and a young sister, his housewife spouse and two little children. His mother, Rahima Alimova, remembers: “We had to go through another difficult period in our family. When my husband died, only Azizullo provided for us by working in Russia and sending us money from there. But after Russia did not allow him to return, our life here got worse. I was sick and received no other aid”.
Azizullo continues: “Then, my friends told me about an organization, which helped returned migrants in a difficult situation, like me”.
It was the local civil society organization “Akhtari bakht” assisting the International Organization for Migration – UN Migration Agency (IOM) to implement the USAID “Dignity and Rights” project.
Azizullo: “I went to them; they asked me what I can do”.
Not he had enough land to use his experience in agricultural sector; neither there was a construction boom in his small town. Azizullo, then, recalled his experience of years back, when he used to help his father at an eatery. The IOM project gifted Azizullo a fridge, a thermos, a toaster, a microwave, an oven, a compote maker, an ice-cream maker, and other necessary equipment and utensils. He also received training to manage the business.
Azizullo says: “During the summer, and we have long summer with long hot days here in the south, I make up to $150 a month only from selling ice-cream and cold drinking water. Pirozhki and samsa, hot-dogs, boiled and fried eggs and other food bring us additional $150, especially during colder days”.
A new stable income has completely changed the life of this family. First of all, now they are psychologically calmer and have trust in better future. Azizullo made enough money to properly update property documents for his home, as well as receive certificate of marriage and certificates of birth for his children. He repaired the house. His youngest child needs constant medical control and treatment, and Azizullo now affords to take the child to doctors frequently. The ration of the family also diversified and improved, he says: “Before, we used to buy some meat and save it for a potential guest. Now, we can frequently buy meat for our own consume too. We can afford different food to eat at home too”.
Azizullo’s mother, Ms. Alimova says: “When Azizullo buys some small toys for his children, that day the smile does not leave his lips. He gets very happy when the kids are happy. He gets happy when takes me to visit our relatives, or when buys something for his sister and wife, both of whom now help him to run the family business. The life returns to me when I see my son happy, my whole family happy. I am thankful to those, who helped us to overcome the dark period in our life and led us to a better today and tomorrow”.