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Goodwill Ambassador Oksana Fedorova visits UNICEF's peace and tolerance camp for children

© UNICEF Russia/2008/Andrei Muchnik
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Miss Universe 2002 Oksana Fedorova learns to dance lezginka – a traditional Caucasus dance with children at the peace and tolerance camp.

Izberbash, North Caucasus, 11 August 2008 - Not too long ago, UNICEF organized a peace and tolerance camp for children from all over North Caucasus, a region that have been shaped by ethnic tensions for decades.

From 2 to 10 July 2008, more than 200 youngsters from Republic of Dagestan, Chechen Republic, Republic of Ingushetia, Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, Stavropol Kray and Karachaevo-Cherkessia attended the “Unite for Peace” camp on the Caspian shore near the town of Izberbash (Dagestan).

“Often children come to the camp with the notion that their peers from other regions are very different," says Head of UNICEF North Caucasus office Rashed Mustafa. "But once they meet other children at the camp, they often realize that they are just like themselves. Back home, they will talk of this to their parents and friends and that is already something."

The summer camp part of UNICEF's Peace and Tolerance Programme in North Caucasus. UNICEF has been running this programme since 2005 in close collaboration with the local governments. At the camp, children can participate in a five-day peace and tolerance training, which is conducted by experienced trainers, psychologists and teachers. They also have a chance to enjoy various contests and performances and, of course, plenty of sunbathing and swimming.

"The main objective of the camp - for the kids to become friends with each other and to dispel stereotypes about other nationalities - has been achieved," concluded Rashed Mustafa. "The camp was successful thanks largely to the support of the North Caucasus regional governments and our partners." For the first few days the organizers' phones were ringing off the hook because of worrying parents, but later on they were only getting thank-you calls, added Mr. Mustafa.
 

© UNICEF Russia/2008/Denis Vlasov
When it is time to leave.
"To become friends with children from the neighboring republics," said 14-year old Tsezar from Beslan (North Ossetia). “I am willing to study their culture and traditions."

The closing ceremony was prepared by the children themselves, with support of UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Oksana Fedorova, famous TV host, winner of the Miss Universe 2002. Oksana engaged one-on-one discussion with the kids, signed autographs on their UNICEF t-shirts, and learned to dance lezginka – a traditional Caucasus dance.

"I felt that I was thrown into a whirlwind of children's smiles and embraces," said Ms. Fedorova. "I have neither received nor given so much energy in a long time." She also noted that she is very proud of her work that "does good for children".

For the first time, children with special needs participated in the camp. "This camp and UNICEF’s inclusive education projects have shown that children with special needs can and should participate in community life," added Ms. Fedorova.

Marha Djavtaeva, one of the psychologists who has been working with the peace and tolerance programme for four years, says that the camp gives children a unique opportunity not just to make new friends, but develop as a person. "Children with low self-esteem or underdeveloped social skills can express themselves in a new way, show their true identities," said Ms. Djavtaeva. 

For more information, please contact

UNICEF Communication Officer Andrei Muchnik amuchnik@unicef.org or  + 7 928 796 6133.

 

 
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