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Visiting The Luli, Kyrgyzstan's Onetime Wanderers

On the outskirts of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan, thousands of people of the Luli minority live in poverty and relative isolation from their ethnic Kyrgyz neighbors. Members of this once nomadic group are struggling to provide for their families' basic needs. Zhanarbek Dzholdoshbaev of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service took these portraits of the community.

These Luli children live in a settlement outside Osh known as Jany-Kyshtak. The site was once a collective farm named after Vladimir Lenin.
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These Luli children live in a settlement outside Osh known as Jany-Kyshtak. The site was once a collective farm named after Vladimir Lenin.

The community largely remains separate from the ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the region.
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The community largely remains separate from the ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the region.

The Luli people have many different names in Central Asia: Djugi, Mughat, Ghurbat, Multani, Dom gypsies, and others.
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The Luli people have many different names in Central Asia: Djugi, Mughat, Ghurbat, Multani, Dom gypsies, and others.

They are thought to have migrated from the Indian subcontinent and to have split off from the Roma, commonly known as gypsies, who migrated to Europe.
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They are thought to have migrated from the Indian subcontinent and to have split off from the Roma, commonly known as gypsies, who migrated to Europe.

During the Soviet era, authorities forced the Luli in Central Asia to stop their nomadic way of life and settle on plots of land provided by the state.
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During the Soviet era, authorities forced the Luli in Central Asia to stop their nomadic way of life and settle on plots of land provided by the state.

This settlement of mud-brick houses has little in the way of utilities and services.
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This settlement of mud-brick houses has little in the way of utilities and services.

Some of the men work in bazaars, sell scrap metal, or raise cattle.
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Some of the men work in bazaars, sell scrap metal, or raise cattle.

Many of the women beg to support their families.
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Many of the women beg to support their families.

Most do not have identity papers, which would give them access to social services and many jobs.
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Most do not have identity papers, which would give them access to social services and many jobs.

Most Luli marry within their community, and girls are expected to marry at a young age.
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Most Luli marry within their community, and girls are expected to marry at a young age.

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