Coloradans Band Together to Help Starving Thousands in Tajikistan

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Sister city demonstrates true meaning of "family" with relief effort for Tajik victims of worst winter in memory.

Now it's time for the citizens of Boulder to repay the kindness, and come to the aid of their generous Tajiki friends

The citizenry of Boulder, Colorado and surrounding areas are taking part in a massive relief effort to help get food to Tajikistan, where the harshest winter in memory has sapped energy resources and caused food shortages so severe that the U.N. has declared that as many as 250,000 Tajik residents are in need of "immediate food aid."

Boulder shares a unique bond with Tajikistan: the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe, is Boulder's sister city. That in itself may not be so unusual, but how many sister cities can boast an iconic tea house, hand-crafted and shipped piece by piece across oceans and miles, to be reassembled and become one of the city's most beloved fixtures?

That tea house is the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, which was built by hand in Tajikistan over the course of two years, and then shipped to Boulder, as a gift from the people of Dushanbe to their sister city, in 1990. Since its arrival, re-assembly, and opening, the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse has become one of the best-loved spots in all of Boulder. And with good reason - the handiwork of the Tajiki craftsman and artisans is truly something to behold, and the tea house is a gift beyond compare.

In exchange, Boulder is constructing a cyber cafe for Dushanbe. The cafe will be a model of many different green construction techniques, giving Dushanbe not only a cyber cafe, but a living model of new energy-saving construction techniques.

But right now the people of Dushanbe need something much more immediate. Something much more urgent.

"Now it's time for the citizens of Boulder to repay the kindness, and come to the aid of their generous Tajiki friends," explains Anne P. Mitchell, organizer of Boulder Dushanbe Relief ( "Tajikistan is suffering what has been referred to as 'the worst winter in living memory'. The power plants there are barely generating enough power to provide heat for a few hours a day - the rest of the day and night there is no heat; people are freezing to death. And they have no food."

The Boulder Dushanbe Relief effort, which is working with the United Nation's World Food Programme, is a joint relief effort coordinated by Mitchell, and supported by the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, the Boulder Dushanbe Sister City organization, and Mitchell's own organization, ISIPP. Boulder Dushanbe Relief will be coordinating a series of fund raising drives and events over the course of the next three weeks, including dinners, silent auctions, and a reception for a visiting delegation from Dushanbe, and culminating with the annual Navruz Festival at the teahouse on Sunday, March 16th. The funds raised will be used by the U.N.'s World Food Programme to put food directly in the hands of the people of Tajikistan.

Explains Lenny Martinelli, proprietor of the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, "I have been in the unique position to see on a daily basis what the gift of the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse has meant to the people of Boulder. To be able to now in some small way return the favor to the people of Dushanbe in their time of need is not only the right thing to do - it's a privilege."

"Our thoughts and hearts go out to the people of Dushanbe and Tajikistan during their time of need. Through our sister city ties we have learned that Tajiks are among the most generous and hospitable people in the world. We can follow their example now," said Sophia Stoller, a member of the board of the Boulder Dushanbe Sister City organization. "To be able to help our sister city of Dushanbe in such an immediate and tangible way when they desperately need it is exactly what the sister city relationship is, fundamentally, all about, and we are thrilled to be able to help to facilitate this effort," added Stoller.

In addition to the various fund raising events and activities that the Boulder Dushanbe Relief effort is organizing, corporate and individual donations can be made through the Boulder Dushanbe Relief website at The website also offers a schedule of events and activities.

"I have to believe that if the people of Boulder knew what the people of Dushanbe were going through right now, they would open their hearts, and their wallets," said Mitchell.

For more information, or to donate to Boulder Dushanbe Relief, see, or send email to [email protected]

About Boulder Dushanbe Relief
Boulder Dushanbe Relief is the cooperative effort between the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse ( the Boulder Dushanbe Sister City organization (, and the Institute for Spam and Internet Public Policy ( Created in response to the dire situation in Tajikistan, the Boulder Dushanbe Relief effort is working directly with the United Nation's World Food Programme to get food to the people of Tajikistan. For more information see


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