Mahbuba Qurbonalieva, director of Central Asia Institute-Tajikistan, recalls her first meeting with Soibegim Sharipova.
“She came into our office and told us that she is a single mother of four children. Her husband passed away several years ago and she had to bring up her children all alone.”
Her eldest daughter was married and her husband was not allowing her to study. Her son and two younger daughters were all students, but Soibegim struggled to pay the tuition fees. She thought one of the girls might have to drop out. Her youngest daughter, Mushtari, was preparing herself at the time to say goodbye to her family and travel to Russia to find a job and send money home. Luckily, her mother’s last-ditch effort to seek out help paid off. She had seen Mahbuba being interviewed on television and decided to reach out. After meeting Mushtari’s mother and reviewing their application, CAI-Tajikistan awarded Mushtari a scholarship.
“Central Asia Institute saved my life,” said Mushtari. “I will try to be the best student of my group and [department], so that CAI will never regret that they have financed my study.”
Mushtari has made true on that promise. As one of only three women in the 29-person architecture program at Tajik Technical University in Dushanbe, she is breaking into this traditionally male-dominated field.
“There are not many girls,” says Mushtari. “Parents want their sons to be architects, not their daughters. It is a difficult program and most girls do not want it to be that hard. Why would they if they will just get married? They would rather do something easy.”
But this kind of pioneering attitude runs in Mushtari’s family – her mother is an engineer and her sister is studying to be a computer engineer at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. Though the engineering gene seems to run
in the family, Mushtari says her favorite classes are drawing and design.
“I like to draw things I’ve seen… This is why I want to travel and see architecture in other countries. I want to use those ideas in my designs. I want to design a school for Central Asia Institute when I graduate,” says Mushtari already thinking of the future despite only being a third-year student. “But first I want to get a Master’s degree because four years of school is not enough to learn everything I need to learn,” she continued.
We look forward to the day when Central Asia Institute can send children to school in a building designed by one of our very own scholarship recipients.
Mushtari sells her art with Infuse Gallery to not only earn money for herself, but give back to Central Asia Institute, who has funded her education