Eleven years of labour migration, re-entry ban, three years of occasional small earnings home – that’s how Mirzoshoh spent a decade and half of his youth before found out about an International Organization for Migration (IOM) program, which created him an opportunity to employ himself and a team of him and stay home by family.
Mirzoshoh Naimov, 36, father of five, lives in a village in remotest part of Qubodiyon district in south of Tajikistan. First went to Russia, the country which hosts more than 90% of Tajik migrant workers, looking for a seasonal job at 19, and since then used to return home only on winters – to marry, find a land, build a house, and see children. Eleven years of labour migration gave him financial ability to take care of home needs and master himself in construction and renovating houses. But the Russian page in his life turned in 2014, when he did not update migration authorities with his new temporary residential address – something the Russians take serious these years and place violators in the re-entry ban list. As of June 2019, more than 200,000 Tajik migrant workers have been banned to re-enter Russia for different reasons.
At home, Mirzoshoh would do any job he could find either in his village or in Dushanbe, becoming another internal migrant worker in the Tajik capital. He names his post-Russia life a hard period:
“None of odd jobs were enough to simply take care of my family. Additionally, my youngest child was sick since birth, as well as my wife does not feel well. Also, I needed somehow to continue building my house and take care of my mother too. I was thinking to go to Kazakhstan, but at the same time, I did not want to leave my family”.
Lack of any construction equipment made his chances finding job offers tougher – anyone would hire someone with tools and he had either to rent or to work as a labourer for other renovation masters. Fed up by lack of a stable job, Mirzoshoh started thinking of selling his house and moving family to Dushanbe to a rented apartment, then going to Kazakhstan until his Russian re-entry ban period ends.
What stopped him was contacting NGO “Chashma”, IOM partner, which implements income generating small grants with funds from USAID Dignity and Rights project. Taking into account Mirzoshoh’s experience in construction and renovation of apartments and houses, as well as his will to stay home and thus ensure sustainability of the project, a set of all main construction equipment was gifted to him.
Mirzoshoh seems shy – for every single picture I have to ask him to smile, and is not talkative at all – any his answer is shorter than my question. It changes when his youngest child joins us – in front of son Mirzoshoh wants to look a self-confident, important, and prideful. He has what to be proud of:
“I have my team, at any point there are 4-5 people working with me. Most of them are young men, who cannot return to Russia like me. We all have experience, now we have most modern equipment, including a power generator, which is very important in remote villages, where frequently electricity is off, and we have clients now. We don’t have to go either to Russia and Kazakhstan, or to Dushanbe and Bokhtar (big cities inside Tajikistan), but we work close to our homes, and can see our families every evening”.
Being able to see wife and children every evening is a luxury for Tajik young men, who live and work far from home for months and years. Mirzoshoh’s latest client by my visit was a neighbor of him, three minutes by walk from his home. His re-entry ban is about to be lifted, but now he does not think of returning to Russia again:
“I have money now to step-by-step buy construction materials and continue building my house. I know most of my clients since childhood and they always pay me, never cheat me. I work by home, children are by me, can enter a store and buy what my wife needs and what my children want. What else one need for happiness?”
By Abdulfattoh Shafiev, Qubodiyon, Tajikistan