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News & Features - October 2012

Reflections on a Journey

Sunday 7th October 2012

Dee King Road TripNothing could have quite prepared me for the truly momentous life changing experience I had in May of 2012 when I accompanied a group of adventurers under the umbrella of “Charity Road Trips” on a trip to a little known part of the world, Tajikistan, a land locked region of Central Asia of an incredible 93% mountainous terrain.

Our mission was to provide aid, both physical and spiritual, to a community in the South West corner of the country, based with an organisation called Sworde Teppa, and a few hours drive from the border with Afghanistan. We were to spend time offering physical and material help, while simultaneously enjoying an adventure of discovery in a land of beautiful scenic backdrops, inhabited by some of the warmest most hospitable people in the world.

How can I ever forget the sumptuous breakfasts served by our gracious hosts, people with little material belongings but for a couple of cows and a small vegetable patch outside their humble adobe dwelling: A feast for the eyes of colourful fruits and nuts with the sacred Tajik bread and a type of porridge made from unpasteurised milk. This was all served up on platters garnished with flowers. This lovingly prepared offering was created in an outside hut on an open fire. It was then delivered to the centre of our “table”: an area of the floor briskly cleared in the morning in the middle of the “guest room”: an outside hut, where we slept on rows of brightly coloured straw filled mattresses.This feast was preceded by a brisk wash in the nearby stream, and a visit to the latrine at the bottom of the garden.Daily life in London would never again hold any challenges for me. I am in complete and utter awe for how much can be achieved with so little.

During our 9 day stay, with my camera and notebook always at the ready, I documented a series of events and meetings between us and theTajik people with whom we met. I like to think this experience will forever inform me in some way in future moments filled with humanity. We visited orphanages, armed with gifts, where the expressions on children's faces ranged from complete disbelief to totally uninhibited glorious joy; we witnessed sporting and social activities steeped in the deepest traditional customs, frequented by people who demonstrated a fiercer pride in their culture than I would have believed possible . We travelled through arrestingly beautiful landscapes, where I came quickly to the realisation that it was more than the altitude which was causing me to gasp for breath at times. It was amongst these stunning locations that we came across simple gentle people going about their day, seemingly unaware of the sheer simplicity of their lot. To escape from the materialistically high tech, media driven world from which we had all briefly emerged, was to allow us a truly exceptional opportunity for reflection.

Tajikistan is a desperately poor country. Almost half of their GDP is earned by migrants working over the border in Russia. This Nation has a massive need for progress.They must find a way to develop now educationally, technologically......socially..The economic problems are immense. That being said, I have taken away something from this deeply eye opening visit, to a land so profoundly trapped in a cultural past of simple values, which I like to think will help me to find a balance in my own world as well as that of those closest to me.There are always lessons to be learnt from the past, while we surge forward into an unknown future. Some aspects of life in the central Asian nation of Tajikistan in 2012 will always remain, in my mind, inspiration for humanity.

By Dee King



Charities involved:

Sworde Teppa 

Charity Road Trips

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