Although Covid-19 rates are high and increasing in Chechnya and the whole of Russia, schools and universities are open again, so students are keen to attend face to face trainings, to learn both about Power of Goodness and Creating Cultures of Peace (CCP). Rustam and Venera started a series of Creating Cultures of Peace trainings with students in Grozny in November. Below is feedback from two of the students, Markha and Magomed.
Over the last quarter of a century people in Chechnya have experienced two devastating wars, years of sporadic fighting and violence, while the population continues to experience violence and suppression today. Acceptance and openness towards others is more discouraged than in the past when Chechnya was multi-ethnic and much more open. Since the wars most people in Chechnya (around 1 million) are now ethnic Chechens, predominantly Muslims. People of other nationalities and faiths had more opportunities to flee to safety elsewhere or were among the many victims of the wars.
In this environment, Creating Cultures of Peace trainings provide a welcome alternative worldview for young people in Chechnya. We plan to hold an 8-day intensive training in the neighbouring country of Georgia in 2021 as soon as conditions allow, for young people from Chechnya, other North Caucasus republics, Georgia, and Ukraine. We had hoped to welcome Creating Cultures of Peace friends from Nepal and Indonesia, but now plan to restrict the event to regional participation as we recover from the pandemic. As well as learning new skills for creating peace within themselves and in their societies, the young people will meet peers from other neighbouring countries and learn about their stories and societies, breaking down the isolation that young people in the North Caucasus feel today.