Some 300 children from four villages in the Vahdat district of Tajikistan must make a treacherous journey to school, walking between three and four kilometers every day, each way. Some wade through a river, but when the waters rise, they must cross a high, rickety suspension bridge, says a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) report.
Vahdat is one of the largest districts of Tajikistan, Republican Subordination Division about 61km from Dushanbe, the capital city.
The schoolchildren use this rickety bridge to get to school.
“The bridge becomes slippery in winter. We slip on it sometimes. Everybody is afraid of that,” says a student.
“We cross the bridge holding the steel cables. Our teachers come with us on rainy or snowy days,” says a girl student.
When the water level is lower the students wade through the river.
“We have no other choice but to cross it. We hold each other’s hands. Anisa is afraid of water and the bridge,” she says.
She is afraid that the stone will move and she will fall into [the river], says the little girl.
One child from our village drowned. We have been afraid ever since.
The journey to the school is 3km each way.
Parents are worried about their children’s safety.
There are many stray dogs along the way, says a worried mother. Teachers help the children to cross the bridge, she said.
The water level rises when it rains. My daughter fell into the river when the water level was high. Fortunately, two people rescued her. She would have drowned if they hadn’t been there to rescue her.
Local villagers say they have been asking the officials to find a solution for years.
“We have approached officials at all levels. The officials listened to us, supported our plans, and promised to build a new school,” says Vaisiddin Kabirov, head of Javonon village.
One of the reasons of the problems is that many of the new settlements here are not registered, he noted.
Ms Sharofat says she just wants a safer bridge to cross the river.
It would be enough if they fix the bridge. It would make everything so much easier, says one of the students.
Since RFE/RF published this report, donors have stepped forward to contribute.
People in Tajikistan, Russia, and the United States have offered to pay for building a new bridge.