The charity selected by Dr Shirin Akiner, current Chairman of the British Uzbek Society, as the beneficiary for the proceeds of the raffle held on 11 December 2017 at the BUS ‘Annual Dinner’ is School 52, Khamzinskii raion, Tashkent. This is a government-funded school (i.e. not a private initiative) for children with special needs. It has a curriculum that emphasises handicrafts and motor neuron development. The aim is to equip children with the practical skills that will help them to fend for themselves when they leave school. About 220-250 pupils currently attend the school.
BUS first developed informal contacts with the School through some of our members, who have been helping to raise funds and to give treats to the pupils on feast days for a number of years. The school has an outstanding headmistress in the person of Rano Haydarovna Khamralieva. She and her dedicated teaching staff do extraordinary work on a very tight budget. The curriculum, as of now, only extends to year 9; a few children do go on to further education (for the disabled), but most stop studying altogether. Many of them come from underprivileged backgrounds. Thus, the school might be the only opportunity for these young people to gain confidence socially.
The BUS Annual Dinner Raffle 2017 was supported by a number of UK-based organisations which provided prizes for the event.* In total, the event raised the impressive sum of £1,100.00 (US$1,500.00). This includes generous individual donations from Lord Sheikh and from Babur Yusupov. The money has now been transferred to Tashkent to the School’s account. Babur, who is currently in Tashkent, has been coordinating our contacts with the School and jointly they have been making arrangements for the implementation of selected projects. As with so many such charities, the School has many urgent needs, ranging from better equipment to repairs to the fabric of the building. However, it also requires facilities that will help the children to develop practical as well as social skills.
Bearing this in mind, Headmistress Rano Haydarovna Khamralieva decided that the first priority for the BUS funding was to establish small allotments within the grounds of the School to enable the children to grow their own fruits and vegetables and to learn about the natural world. Babur has arranged for a local landscape designer to help with this project, and the nearby mosque has donated tiles for the main pathway from one of the old prayer areas. Symbolically, this creates a link between past and present, and represents a sense of community bonding.
Our donation will not solve the financial problems of School 52, but our contributions will assist them in their on-going work. Shirin Akiner visited the School on her visit to Tashkent in March 2018 and was very pleased to attend the children’s Nauruz Party and Concert – a very happy, inclusive event. The headmistress also showed her the sports facilities that have been upgraded and they walked round the garden, with allotments planted by the children.
*Prizes for our raffle were kindly donated by:
UzbekInvest International Insurance Company Limited
Lord Sheikh (House of Lords)
Embassy of Uzbekistan in the UK
BUS members, in Tashkent and London, freely and generously gave their time to organise this event.
Shirin Akiner, London, January 2018