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UNICEF: New Alternatives for Poverty-Stricken Youths in Tajikistan
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UNICEF: New Alternatives for Poverty-Stricken Youths in Tajikistan

Children in Tajikistan whose families can't afford to support them often end up in institutions that are little more than child detention centers. A new UNICEF-sponsored daytime drop-in center aims to offer a better alternative for cash-strapped parents.

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Produced by UNICEF Television.

Learn more about UNICEF's efforts to implement alternative methods to deal with young offenders in Tajikistan.

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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
Welcome to the special vocational school in Dushanbe. Hekmat Zokirov has been here for three years, but he hasn't committed any crime. His family is just poor. His mother sent him here because she believes that he'll get an education here.
HEKMAT ZOKIROVA
My mother said study here for another three years and then I'll send you to Russia for work. How can you go against what your mother wants?
VOICEOVER
Economic conditions remain tough in Tajikistan and these institutions are often dumping grounds for children whose families can't support them. UNICEF, together with the Child Legal Centre of Great Britain and the Tajikistan government is looking into the problem of youth incarceration.
GEOFF WRIGHT [Children's Legal Centre, UK]
With the best will in the world, the people that are working in these institutions cannot replace family life for these youngsters. They are realizing now that family life is better than institutional care.
VOICEOVER
So we visited Hekmat's family. His father, unable to find a job at home like a half a million other men from Tajikistan, went to Russia for work. His mother Shodigul Zokirova is caring for Hekmat's five brothers and sisters and says she can't afford to keep her eldest son at home. But when we tell her that Hekmat is not in school but a closed institution, she's persuaded to take him back. "You tell me that they're not teaching anything there, so I have to find another solution," she says. And one already exists: UNICEF sponsored and developed, this daytime drop-in center. It's an alternative to the dumping of children in closed institutions. It has activities such as computer training, music, even language courses.
TITLE
Tojiddin Jalolov, Youth Counselor
VOICEOVER
Tojiddin Jalolov runs the drop-in center and says officials were skeptical of dealing with children in this way but, when they saw the center, they stood solidly behind the idea. For youths whose parents are unable or unwilling to care for them, a UNICEF-sponsored center offers life skills that may change the course for disadvantaged children. This is Vladimir Lozinski reporting for UNICEF Television. Unite for children.