Girl from Grozny tries to fight violence with education
The first youth plenary session is set for in the morning and Madina still looks a bit tired when it starts. Sitting in the conference room of the Celica Youth Hostel in Ljubljana with the translation device dangling around her neck, she doesn’t look like she is on vacation. But in a way she is – on vacation from reality.
Madina is one of 24 young participants at the regional consultation for the UN Study on Violence Against Children in Europe & Central Asia. And she has traveled to the venue in Slovenia from her hometown Grozny together with her chaperone Elza (aged 35) who runs the NGO “Let’s save the Generation” in the Republic of Chechnya in the Russian Federation. Madina was born in 1991 and since her kindergarten age, her life has been dominated by war and violence.
“I don’t remember much from the first war. I think I was only four at that time. But when the second war started, I was in 3rd grade at school. I remember the airplanes in Grozny and how we all got on a car and fled to a village, then on to Ingushetia. There we were refugees, and I didn’t go to school again that year.”
After 6 months in Ingushetia, the republic to the West of Chechnya, Madina and her family went to Moscow for two years. But then they decided to move South again, back to their native land.
Madina, on the right, with friends at their tented school in Ingushetia
Madina: “When we came back from Moscow, we had to stay in Ingushetia again for another two years. Our school was in a tent, provided by CPCD (Center for Peacemaking and Community Development. And we had also had the UNICEFSchool in a Box, you know, all the writing materials and so on. At least we did not miss any more years of school.”
Half a year ago Madina and her family finally moved back to Grozny, which is still far from being a safe environment for children and adults alike. “We hear gunfire every now and then. Or some of the men are taken from the houses for interrogation. My friends are scattered all over Russia and I can only hope the situation will improve” says Madina. “We have a mine action project in school – UNICEF people give the lectures. I think that really helps to raise the children’s awareness.”
The 14-year old just finished 9th grade and has two more years in High School before she wants to study at university. Her dream is to major in Human Rights Studies. Her active participation in the Regional Consultation on Violence Against Children – which was facilitated by the UNICEF office in Nazran (in southern Russia) -- might be a first step in the right direction.