September 23, 2020

Uzbekistan student helps thousands of families during COVID-19

Webster master’s student Fazliddin Bakhromov has been volunteering in Tashkent, Uzbekistan during COVID-19. His volunteer work has reached over 30,000 families.

Fazliddin Bakhromov has helped over 30,000 families since March 26. Bakhromov is studying at Webster University’s Uzbekistan campus for his second master’s degree. As COVID-19 spread in Tashkent, Bakhromov wanted to make a difference. Bakhromov did not expect his volunteer work would expand so quickly.

“There have been many times where I’ve shed a tear,” Bakhromov said. “We are helping people who have nobody to support them, who do not have children or those whose children are out of Uzbekistan.”

Bakhromov’s volunteer work has grown and resulted in a coordinating center in Tashkent. The mayor of Tashkent gave the group a spot to work in and helped supply the staff with food and other essential items. 

Photo contributed by Fazliddin Bakhromov.
An image of the volunteer center. Volunteers answer more than 3,000 calls daily.

“I would like to say big ‘Thanks’ to city Mayor of Tashkent City for his help to this center. He asked all his friends to help [the] center,” Bakhromov said. “Since that day, we do not have a lack of resources. Thousand of kilograms of different meals are coming every day.”

The center has over 100 volunteers. Thirty of the volunteers answer calls while others go out to deliver supplies. An estimated 2,500 essentials are being delivered to the elderly and at-risk families every day. There are 3,000 calls every day to the organization. Bakhromov and his team had to create seminars to show the volunteers how to talk and reach more people in the call centers.

“[On the] first day they got 700 calls, the second day 1,200 and the number was [rising] as they were practicing more,” Bakhromov said. 

From April 1 to April 17, Bakhromov estimated more than 30,000 families received essential meals, medicine, diapers and baby food. Yet, some residents of Tashkent remained wary.

“[The] Soviet Union generation is a very proud generation. They saw World War II, they saw how people lived with a piece of bread and water. It is very difficult for them to ask something or to ask for help,” Bakhromov said. “I was very impressed when one woman called to the center. She kindly asked to help her neighbor. She told us she wants to help her, but she refuses her and other neighbors.”

Bakhromov said the woman was around 90 years old. It was a challenge for her to accept help. She was in an at-risk age group but did not think of herself that way. Bakhromov said that it was a lot of effort but eventually, the woman let him help her with groceries and other tasks.

The master’s student started his work on March 26 with Aziza Umarov. Umarov saw a story on how Spain’s elderly were dying alone after contracting COVID-19. This led her to post on Facebook and ask for volunteers.

Photo contributed by Fazliddin Bakhromov.
Bakhromov and Sevara Nazarhon, a famous singer in Uzbekistan. Nazarhon volunteered at the center Bakhromov started.

They started with a group of 10 and helped 37 families around the Sergeli District of Tashkent. After they used their own money helping these families, they decided to crowdfund to help more. They began using crowdfunding after the first day and helped over 300 families in five days.

“Fazliddin was a great ‘partner in crime,’” Umarov said. “Now, we keep helping out lonely elderly and disabled in different parts of Tashkent.”

Bakhromov went on to partner with the head of the Youth Union of Uzbekistan. The two currently work together in the efforts to support Tashkent.

“We understood that only by putting our efforts together we can help as many families as we can,” Bakhromov said.

Gordana Peskovic works at the Uzbekistan campus as an economics professor and shared the story with the Webster community. She described Bakhromov as having a big heart.

“I wanted others to read and learn about our students in Uzbekistan and how dedicated they are in helping others, especially elderly,” Peskovic said. “We need to share those beautiful stories about each other. They inspire us all to help each other and to become better people.”

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