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Alumni Publications

News from Alumni

Tajikistan

Rachel Landauer '09
Toronto, Canada

Rachel Landauer '09 writes from Tajikistan: "This is a very curious country, especially because Central Asia is a region I have never known much about. It's a whirlwind of dichotomy: modern shops (like an Adidas store) and open air bazaars; Russian, Tajik and Pamiri speakers; women in miniskirts alongside women in Hijabs; people who cling to the security provided to them by the Soviets in the past and people who embrace Tajik independence; Russian opulence and austereness alongside traditional Tajik warmth and simplicity.

"Apart from wonderful culture, beautiful nature, a new language to learn and edible food (edible, not delicious), I am learning a lot about health in development. My placement is with the Aga Khan Health Service in Khorog, the administrative center of the Gorno Badakshan Semi Autonomous Oblast. Acting as a program assistant to a bunch of different projects, I get an interesting balance of office/desk work and being out in the field, which I appreciate.

"I have seen villages more geographically remote and isolated than I ever imagined, and I enjoy learning about barriers to development and ways to extend health services to these places (how to use solar energy to power hospitals and schools, how to create employment opportunities, how to improve diet and nutrition through greenhouses, etc.)  The remains of the Soviet infrastructure of public services and safety nets, no longer supportable under the Tajik government, makes for another interesting context. For example, health care provision is largely free to the population but (a) it's of poor quality (b) hospitals and primary health facilities do not have the technology/supplies they need (c) salaries are so low that there is a severe shortage of trained health professionals and (d) patients are forced to pay out of pocket, informal bribes for services."