Tajikistan’s economy is highly dependent on the remittances sent home by migrant workers, making it the top recipient in the world with a contribution to GDP of almost 50 percent. The continuity of labour migration, mostly to the Russian Federation, raises important questions and concerns about the general wellbeing of the left behind children. Children are often the most affected due to their relative immaturity and lack of social power in Tajik society. Using a child -centered ethnography, these children had an opportunity to express their feelings and understanding and to help us see the many ways they experience their parental absence and their lives with the extended family.
Being left behind in Tajikistan has become ‘naturalized’, as a result, the hardships faced by the children are “invisible”. The results revealed that these experiences are influenced by the gender of the child. If girls were more open to expressing their feelings to the researcher, boys, on the other hand, are influenced by traditional and stereotypical views on masculinity and expressing feelings is not ‘manly’. Girls' are subject to excessive amounts of household chores, as well as taking care of other children in the household making them experience higher social and psychological costs compared to boys. The findings of my research further show that children experience abuse of various forms, withdrawal, insecurity and loneliness. Yet, they also showed the potential for resilience in the face of adversity using many ways to cope with their situations.
About Shukriya Nazridod
Shukriya Nazridod completed her bachelor’s degree in Sociology at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Her undergraduate thesis focused on understanding the effects of parental migration on the wellbeing of those children who are left behind with their extended families in Khorog, Tajikistan. She then continued her education by pursuing an MA in Social Work with Families and Children, a joint Erasmus Mundus Masters programme developed by ISCTE-University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL), University of Gothenburg (UGOT), University of Stavanger (UiS) and Makerere University (MU). Her Masters Research thesis continued to focus on the field of migration in Tajikistan, particularly on giving voice to the children growing up without the presence of their parents. The study examined children's experiences, from their own perspective as agents rather than victims; capturing their feelings and understanding of being 'left behind'. It explored how they managed their lives on a day to day basis while their parents were away and during short visits when they returned home. This is an important aspect of the migration story in Tajikistan which, until now, has largely been ignored.
ISCTE-IUL, Ed. Sedas Nunes, Aud. Paquete de Oliveira