Uzbekistan - Giving something back

Giving something back

Uzbekistan needs foreign investment, foreign recognition and foreign scrutiny. Responsible tourists can contribute in all these areas by becoming both observers and ambassadors. Think about where and how you spend your money, remembering that family-run guesthouses, local restaurants and co-operative craft workshops are the best way to put your money into the local community.

If you want to volunteer in Uzbekistan, an internet search will reveal a small number of NGOs working within the country, most of which are in the environmental and social sector. Most western NGOs were expelled from the country in 2005–06 following international criticism of the Andijan Massacre. The work of the remaining NGOs is strictly controlled and their workers are often viewed with suspicion by the authorities. It is not uncommon for NGO workers to have their visas terminated suddenly.

Counterpart ( works with local NGOs around the world. In Uzbekistan it is involved in disaster response, humanitarian commodities distribution, leadership and enterprise development, and small reconstruction projects. It seeks donors, volunteers and corporate partners. Medical Teams International ( has a field office in Uzbekistan. It works primarily in two areas: emergency medical service training, and outreach and rehabilitation programmes for disabled children. It also provides medical supplies to under-stocked hospitals and clinics. Volunteers with professional backgrounds in medicine and dentistry are particularly sought, though there are also volunteering openings for non-medical support staff.

SOS Children’s Village has an office in Tashkent (79A Nukus; tel: (071) 120 3783; email: and works with orphans throughout the country. It is always in need of extra hands and donations of spare cash, toys and children’s clothing.

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