Phoenix's Uzbek Community

PhotographerNicole Gibson
PrizeHonorable Mention

On May 13, 2005, peaceful protesters in the city of Andijan, Uzbekistan, who had gathered in the town square in hopes that their President would come speak with them, looked on in horror as they realized what was happening instead: government soldiers were driving tanks through the streets shooting everyone in their path. As bullets flew, people ran arm-in-arm with relatives, friends and countrymen, and watched as everywhere around them people fell like rain. 200 survivors of what is now known as the Andijan Massacre are living in Phoenix, Arizona as refugees. Almost all 200 of them are men, and having been away from their families for six years, many have children they’ve never been able to hold. Only a handful are lucky enough to have their wives and children with them. But these men are not living the life that most might expect from refugees. Previously scattered throughout 13 different states, these businessmen decided to come together in Phoenix in order to start businesses, create jobs, and help the economy. They now spend their time running several successful local businesses, raising awareness about their story, and working toward someday returning to Uzbekistan. Their goal is that wherever they go, they may work for the benefit of their community and for the welfare of humanity.