We learned about the TajikMama.tj project for the first time during preparations for the VIII International Conference “Insights into Development”. Through the conference, an “SCO New Vision Award!” competition took place. There were two contenders for the award: OO “Nuri Umed” from Penjikent and TajikMama.tj of the National Association of Small and Medium Businesses. By the decision of the jury committee both projects received awards. Our reporter in Tajikistan met with those who created the project…
So what is TajikMama.tj? It’s a virtual parents club in Tajikistan based on a website with a similar name that was created on March 23, 2012 as a platform for social networking. The website was created in the framework of a project on social responsibility of business under the National Association of Small and Medium Business of Tajikistan (ASMBT). Currently, there are 17,000 members and the number is growing every day. Nasibahon Aminova, founder of the group and the executive director of the National Association of Small and Medium Business of Tajikistan said it started as an initiative group.
It all started with ordinary family problems,” said Aminova. “After I returned to Dushanbe from Russia, I needed recommendations to find a school for my elder son and a kindergarten for my younger son. I could not find this information anywhere. In Moscow you could simply find this information via the Internet. One could get information about almost any institution. However, in Tajikistan in 2011 there were neither online references nor a database on any subject whasoever. That is, there was sort of a vacuum and it had to be filled,” she recalls.
Nasibahon was invited to a training on women-led-entrepreneuship and information technologies in Israel, where she obtained the web-development skills. At that time, she had the idea to work on a project focused on women and their problems. Thus, the Internet platform for parents “TajikMama.tj” came to existence. The platform gave people a chance to engage in free discussion on important topics. In March of 2012, Nasibahon created a group on Facebook among her friends and acquaintances to help understand what problems parents have. Simultaneously, with help of a web-designer, the TajikMama.tj web-site was designed. It launched on June 1 of the same year, coinciding with International Children Protection Day.
|«We don’t separate the participants into men and women. We don’t make exclusions for moms or dads, men or women. We take care about our future generation and our children»
(from the group rules)
Our small group of 20 people on Facebook started growing and exceeded a hundred people. Every month over the next five years it added about 1,500 people on average” noted Nasibahon Aminova. “I realized that transferring all of the people, and it was a vast flow of users, would be inconvenient. Because it would create double the amount of Internet traffic and time wasted, and also repetition of everything that has been discussed in the group with the same name. So we decided to innovate: on search engines you can find the website and thena link to the official page of TajikMama.tj on Facebook and its link to the Tajik Mama Group.”
One can see all of TajikMama.tj organizational activities (projects, news, consultations) on the main Facebook page. Discussions around specific issues, from answers to questions and recommendations of mothers from diapers to sunblock creams, and latest gossip, can be found on the linked page of the forum itself.
When the mother’s forum opened active operations, Nasibahon ran the administration of the both projects. However, later she understood that processing of a huge flow of information through the forum became an impossible task and she took four assistants as moderators. “Every minute the “Tajik mothers” page received a post from our participants, as well as a vast flow of spam,” says Nasibahon. To make sure that the page gets interesting and discussable information, the girls who work as assistants conduct pre-moderation, and approve incoming posts. Only after that do they get posted to the forum.”
Regarding what social issues “TajikMama.tj” helped resolve in the past five years, the head of the group says that first off, the informational vacuum was filled. The platform gave an opportunity to quickly find answers to all the questions of interest between the participants, who shared their personal experience or advised on difficult life experiences. Among the parents, many were specialists in a certain field – lawyers, doctors, or psychologists, and thus the platform helped to quickly gain consultation by a specialist and resolve various issues. Second, online communication among the parents helped to bring them together, and often form friendships that then extended offline. Mothers met more often for a cup of tea in cafes to chat in person, and soon this turned into an official meeting of parents. It became a national forum, where the issues of raising children were discussed. This was the first parent conference in Tajikistan that gathered a great number of like-minded people. They decided to organize such forums once every other year. Third, with help of the community, they succeed in addressing changes in the society, when the state structures started reacting to the worrying signal that came to the surface in the group. TajikMama.tj became a true dialogue platform between the society and state.
Slowly, we started involving our mothers in business so that they could earn a living and believe in themselves,” says Nasibahon. We started business breakfasts, where by discussing parents’ ideas we inspired them to start their businesses.”
Besides all of this, TajikMama.tj as a public organization is a partner of many structures and organizations. For example, being a partner of the capital municipality, they help to organize different fairs and exhibitions. They are members of the board of trustees in various associations, for example, IRODA – the Initiative of Parents of Children with Autism. By the way, may mistakenly think that the members of the TajikMama.tj community are exclusively mothers. It’s not true. There are in fact many fathers and as a response to this group, a similar forum for Tajik fathers was created on Facebook. TajikMama.tj plans to coordinate with the similar organizations in neighbouring countries to exchange experience to achieve the main task – to unite parents based on mutual help and discussion of pertinent issues faced by the whole region.
|«TajikMama.tj became a true parents’ club for more than 17,000 group subscribers on Facebook. The number of people who share their experience and are becoming true friends is growing every day.»|
The head of TajikMama.tj, Nasibahon Aminova, shares her impressions from participation in the VIII International Conference “Insights into Development” that took place in June of 2017.
First, at the conference we would take interesting master-classes from successful NGOs. Because the participants came from a variety of places, the forum was useful to make new acquaintances and exchange experiences. We met potential partners and like-minded people. It was interesting to learn for instance that with the help of an online platform, it was possible to do fundraising and direct the money to the social projects. We realized that in conditions when the public organizations are financially unsustainable and completely depend on the donors’ money, it is possible to do a good thing. Having collected the money from the receivers of services themselves without waiting for financial assistance, in general, the spirit of the conference was very positive and left many positive impressions” shared Nasihabon.