Real lives











Photo Essay: Rebirth of the Tolstoy School In Osh Province, Kyrgyzstan

© UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/Ushakov

In June 2010 civil clashes led to grave injuries and loss of life in Osh and Jalal-Abad. Hundreds thousands people were displaced and properties damaged.

© UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/Ushakov

The Tolstoy school in Shark village was of one of the three schools in Osh and Jalal-Abad, which were completely burned down. Yet the school sport yard brought together children to play volley ball and helped them heal psychological wounds. For small children friendly child spaces were opened to provide them with psycho-social support.

© UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/Grebennikova

In August 2010, UNICEF, Government and school management made every effort possible to allow children from the Tolstoy school study in safe environment. Eleven tents were set up. Four days before the beginning of the school year, the tents had to be moved to another location after threats were received. Teachers, parents and UNICEF employees worked round the clock to install and equip a tented school before 1 September 2010.

© UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/Grebennikova

On the 1st of September 2010 at the opening ceremony, parents made a circle around a small ground where children were celebrating the First Bell and the Opening of the temporary school. The parents were crying with happiness. They could not believe that their children would remain together and study close to them.

© UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/Grebennikova

Children studied in the tents until winter came. “When we studied in tents, it was like an excursion. When it was too hot, we pulled up the walls and we could see fields around us” said KhojiakbarYanguibaev, 17.  MuazamMamadjanova, 15, added, “We could spend so much time outside, I even learnt to play football. We had two girls’ teams. It was great fun. I want to continue playing football.” This was not only a novelty for Muazam, but also a gender breakthrough for the whole community.

© UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/Grebennikova

In the meanwhile a new school was being constructed.

© UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/ Eliassen

When winter came, the Tolstoy school – the students, teachers, administration together with basic school materials – moved to share the building of the Sharipov School.  UNICEF supported minibuses which went from house to house to collect children in the mornings and bring them back after school.

© UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/Eliassen

UNICEF helped to renovate classrooms and toilets and provided basic school materials in the Sharipov School. When the children from the Tolstoy school arrived, they were met by all the students of the Sharipov School. The two directors whose rooms were close to each other managed to ensure the friendly environment. The time together gave birth to numerous friendships.

© UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/Solodunova

In summer 2011, the construction of the new Tolstoy school was finalised. Well before the beginning of the academic year students were congregating around the new school, trying to help the builders with their final touches and assist teachers who were decorating walls and preparing visual materials for their new classes.

© UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/Solodunova

At the end of the 2009-2010 school year, KhojiakbarYanguibaev took 40 pots home to look after for the three summer months. Just after that, the school was burned down and he had to nurture the plants for much longer, as a memory of the school. Now all his 40 flower pots are in the new school. They make a bridge from those times and instill a hope of peace for years to come.

© UNICEF Kyrgyzstan/Solodunova

On the eve of 1st of September 2011 – the opening ceremony of the new school, children were planting flowers in the flower beds in front of the entrance to the school building. In autumn they are planning to plant trees to cast a welcome shadow.

© UNICEF/Kyrgyzstan/Eliassen

There are also still issues to address. There is still a long journey ahead for the Government and its partners to ensure that every child has equitable access to quality education in Kyrgyzstan. “We must help children from the former Hamza School. They are still studying in a temporary space and waiting for a happy moment like that in the Tolstoy School” UNICEF Representative Jonathan Veitch stresses.



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