My name is Zara Whiteside, and I am from the UK. I was studying in Dushanbe for two months this year, and I am a volunteer with Nazari Digar. During my time in Tajikistan, myself and four of my friends on my course got involved with Nazari Digar and wanted to help in any way we could.
We were asked by Nazari Digar to make a series of films, dedicated to the children of Tajikistan with Down Syndrome, showing that these beautiful children are not defined by the fact they have Down Syndrome, and that they have hobbies just like any other child without the condition. This was ahead of the 21st March, which is World Down Syndrome Day, where we wanted to include 21 children and their parents, talking about the qualities and hobbies of the children. This is because people with Down Syndrome have an extra 21st chromosome, compared to those without the condition.
In Dushanbe, we filmed 6 children, they radiated happiness and a beautiful energy and excitement as we filmed them around the mall. It was lovely to see Yusufjon, and also Musjjon, playing with their brothers, which we got on film, and to see the amazing relationship they have. Likewise the parents gave us some beautiful words about their children, and despite some seeming a bit nervous, like Yosinjon’s mother, what they had to say was truly heartwarming. The strength these mothers have is extremely evident, as there are a lot of challenges to be faced in raising a child with Down Syndrome, and the bond these parents have with their children is so deep, like that between Ruqiyajon and her mother.
The whole experience of filming these children was so special and incredibly touching. It was a privilege to be able to talk to the parents, and to have them open up about their child and the experiences of bringing them up.
Despite complications with travel arrangements due to coronavirus, we were still able to get the film completed by the 21st March, in time for World Down Syndrome Day, and you can now view it on the website with both Russian and English subtitles. Please see the result of our Team work on producing the video clip with my friends below.