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2006.12.27
Welcome to the special vocational school in Dushanbe. Hekmat Zokirov has been here for three years. But he has not committed any crime. His family is just poor. His mother sent him here because she believes that he may get an educaton here. Soundbite (Tajik) Hekmat Zokirova: "My mother said study here for another three years and then I will send you to Russia for work. How can you go against what your mother wants?" 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 Center of Great Britain and the Tajikistan government is looking into the problem of youth incarceration. Soundbite (English) JeffreyWright, Child Legal Center, UK: "With the best will in the world the people who work in these institutions cannot replace family life for these youngsters. They are realizing now that family life is better than institutional care." So we visited Hekmats' 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 cannot afford to keep her eldest son at home. But when we tell her that Hekmat is not in school but a closed institution, she is 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 drop in center. It’s an alternative to the dumping of children in closed institutions. It has activities such as computer training, music and even language courses. Tojiddin Jalolov runs the drop in center and says officials were sceptical 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 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan reporting for UNICEF. Unite for children
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