In the war-torn capital city, Grozny, most of the buildings
have been reduced to rubble – including the schools. Children
struggle to learn in the ruined shells of their schools. Nine-year-old
Iman Tcadaeva from Grozny is one of these children.
lost my parents during the war and I miss them very much. Our
family used to live in a village, but in 1996 my father disappeared
without a trace. So now I have to live with my aunt in Grozny,”
“I usually get up at 7 o’clock. Classes begin in
the afternoon, so I help my aunt around the house and prepare
my homework before going to school. It’s hard to do my
homework in the evenings as the electricity is often turned
off so I have to study by candlelight. In the evenings my friend
visits me and we sit on the bench and dream of our future together.”
Iman’s local school is School 37 in Grozny. “Our
school was destroyed; there was no glass in the windows. Very
often my friends and I were ill. “
“I like the repaired school very much… It has become
my second home.”There were also no doors, no gas or electricity
and no running water. To most people the school looked derelict
but the children continued to attend as they had no alternative.
Blankets and pieces of wood were used instead of windows and
doors, whilst plastic was used instead of glass. The 563 students
had to fill their own water bottles and bring them to school
as there was no water supply. Instead of central heating the
school used a dangerous old gas stove, and the lack of electricity
meant the children had to work by candlelight.
IR at work
Islamic Relief rebuilt School Number 37 with a budget of €88,000,
partly financed by a partner organisation, CAFOD.
All the doors and windows were replaced. The collapsed roof
was restored, new toilets were put in and central heating was
installed throughout the school.
At the start of the school year, School Number 37 re-opened
and the children were finally able to study in a clean
and safe environment. The school now has 48 classrooms,
plus a gym and canteen. The number of pupils attending
almost doubled to 1,100 and there are now 45 teachers.
Iman is pleased with the results. “Now the school
is repaired and it is nice and bright. I like the repaired
school very much. We go to school every day and it has
become my second home. In future I’m going to be
a doctor to cure people from different diseases, and there
a lot of sick people in our town now.”
In the coming months Islamic Relief Chechnya will provide
training for teachers so that they can run evening vocational
training classes in English, needlework and carpentry.
Learning these practical skills will be useful for the
children to learn. But the lessons also serve another
purpose - they prevent children from playing on the street
of Grozny. Streets which, unfortunately, are still controlled
by armed gangs and where landmines continue to pose a
The future, however, is still about children like Iman.
“I dream that the fighting is over at last, that
the children don’t cry of fear any more. I dream
that the merry-go-rounds work again. But my precious dream
is to find my father, finish school with good marks and