Well it goes without saying that we had a great time while Ian was here. He arrived on the 4th September and went back, via Riga, on the 10th. Not a long visit, but full of interesting activities and just great to see each other again. It is all so reassuring to spend time together and catch up on all the news in person.
I think Ian met almost everyone that I have worked with or met during my time here. He was only slightly unwell on one day and we shared a minor cold, but apart from that and the unrelenting heat all was well. and while Ian was here, Tom was in New York working for a couple of weeks, so we were very spread around the globe for a short while.
Ian's visit coincided with the 20 year independence day celebrations in Tajikistan, something that has been in preparation ever since I arrived. We were very fortunate to have tickets provided to attend both the openning of the new city park and the main event in the National Stadium on Independence Day. Both events were attended by the president and we seemed to be the only western/europeans at both occassions, so very priviledged to have tickets and some help in getting through tight security alongside large crowds. You will see pictures on the blog of the events, lots of flag waving and joy at 20 years of being an independent state.
It was also Ian's 60th birthday while he was here and again we celebrated with our Tajik friends and a birthday cake. Ian was given a beautiful teapot and tea bowls to take home, as well as a tea cossie made from traditional Tajik design fabric. He visited my office and met the staff there and also met some of the managers family, who hosted a meal to celebrate his visit. He was quite overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of the people he met and went away with lots of positive views of his time here.
At the end of August was the Eid festival, the end of Ramadan, when all Muslims fast for one month during the daylight hours. Eid is a chance for families and friends to meet together to enjoy meals, to pray and to share their homes with each other. Once again, I was included in this event and had a great welcome from lots of people. I have been very fortunate to be included in these special times with Tajik people.
I have found it difficult to get back into work mode this week, but there is much to do in the project in the coming weeks, so I suspect that I will be OK again now.
We have had new volunteers arrive in the last couple of weeks, one of whom is continuing to live in the house in Duchanbe with us. the others have all gone to their placements around the country. At the beginning of October we have another group arriving and one more will stay here in Duchanbe, so we will have a full house. In the mean time other people come and go, visiting on going elsewhere. One volunteer finished her placement this week and is now back in London. Others are due to leave in October and November. It feels odd to be one of the people who has been here longest already, but everyone is helpful and we try to keep in touch with one another. I will be home on the 8 December for four weeks and can't wait to see Tom and Oscar (and Ian) again.
this week we had a thunder storm and all of a sudden the weather is cooler and the nights not so hot. Just like in England autumn has arrived and I am planning which coat to bring back with me in January when it will be very cold and icy.
I think that Ian will be happy that I am well looked after here by the people I work with, we all get along very well and I don't think I would ever have difficulty in asking for help, if needed. I do hope that all who read this are well and I look forward to being in touch in the near future. Please keep emails and messages coming, I love to hear from you.
With lots of love, Yvonne