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.
One charity worth mentioning is SOS Children’s Village, which has an office in Tashkent 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.