House of Happiness

Liza and Vitya shooting up heroin at home. Liza shares a room with an HIV positive tattoo artist and heroin addict Vitya. Osh, Kyrgyzstan. 2007. Photo by Rena Effendi

Liza and Vitya shooting up heroin at home. Liza shares a room with an HIV positive tattoo artist and heroin addict Vitya. Osh, Kyrgyzstan. 2007. Photo by Rena Effendi

House of Happiness documents family and cultural rituals in the traditional society of Ferghana Valley, a post-Soviet melting pot of Central Asian ethnicities that is undergoing a revival of radical Islam. “House of Happiness”, a Soviet holdover institution where couples officially register their marriages, is an ironic name for a story of a place where polygamy is practiced in the name of Islam and forced marriages are a social norm. According to the United Nations, nearly 60 percent of the opiates from Afghanistan destined for Europe are trafficked through Ferghana Valley, along the ancient Silk route, now known as “the heroin highway”. Staggering poverty – resulting in rampant drug crime, prostitution are the modern day ingredients to this Central Asian cocktail.

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