ANDAROM VILLAGE, TAJIKISTAN
My name is Jonamo. I am 43 years old. After graduating from high school I wanted to continue my studies, but my parents did not let me to go to college. Back then it was not common to send girls to the college. Girls were not in charge of their lives. Parents made decisions for them. Soon after graduation my parents arranged my marriage. I was to marry my mom's relative. I did not have a choice but to obey my parents. Now I am blessed to have four lovely kids. Two of my kids are college students. My daughter is a junior, and my son is a sophomore. Both of them study economics. The two younger ones are in school: my younger son is competing his high school (graduating in May 2016) and my younger daughter is in 8th grade. My husband works odd jobs, but is currently unemployed. I am the only one in the family who has a job. I am working hard to help my kids get a higher education. I do not want them to go through what I endured. Prior to starting the spinning job I did not have money to buy food and clothes for my kids. My father-in-law helped us with cash, but it still was not enough for a family of six. I had a lot of struggles and difficulties to overcome in my life. Sometimes I would despair and feel depressed. Now when I look back to my life, I appreciate very much having a job and not being dependent on others. I tell my kids that I respect their right to make their own decisions, to do what they think is good for them. Now a little bit about my work. I am the head of our small spinning team. I like my job and enjoy working with my team. We are working in a very friendly environment. As we understand that our business depends on how happy our customers are, we work hard to produce the highest quality yarn in the region. I learned how to spin when I was very young. My mom showed me how to do it. My dad was a farmer and we had many angora goats and made our own yarn. My mom used to dye the yarn and we knitted sweaters, socks, gloves and scarves. Once I made an angora dress for myself which came out very beautiful. As I have been spinning for years I can proudly say that I become highly skilled in spinning and knitting. I get invitations to train women in different regions of Tajikistan and Afghanistan (our neighboring country) on how to spin. I charge a small fee for my master classes. The money I make I spend mostly on food, electricity, and paying my kids' college fees. As a part of our spinning project I was able to visit New York City in January 2016. We sold our yarns and met some of our customers in person. It was a very impressive trip. I liked New York City. People are friendly and you can see smiley faces everywhere. I hope we continue working together with our buyers to build a partnership based on mutual respect and benefits. In addition to business partnership we look forward to developing friendship with our American customers. We will be happy to host friends who want to visit our country.