To most St. Petersburg residents, it’s a familiar scene: A group of children commandeer a courtyard for a game of pick-up soccer on a Saturday afternoon, rain notwithstanding. But these kids aren’t used to relaxing so openly in Russia’s second city. They are the children of Central Asian labor migrants, who often fall between the cracks of Russian society.
Like most residents of her children’s home in Osh, Nargiza is a part-time orphan. Her father disappeared when she was born and her mother works long spells in Russia. Nargiza has no siblings and doesn’t know her grandparents. But she does see her mother from time to time.
Four years ago, Farida Hajimova’s husband left Tajikistan to work in Russia. After a time, he stopped calling. Ultimately, he never returned. She was left at home in Dushanbe with two daughters and not a lot of options. Now she says she has no choice but to follow in her ex-husband's footsteps -- not to find him, but to find work herself.
Seven years ago, like thousands of other Armenians, 58-year-old Anahit opted to overlook the age-old hostility between Armenia and Turkey and move to Istanbul from her hometown of Gyumri. One simple factor guided her decision -- she needed a job, and Turkey offered the best place to find one.