The Practical Family Institute - the first year for real
End-of-year exams for the 1st year of an experimental education project for girls from poor and broken families known as the Eva Practical Family Institute were held in Grozny on 18th and 19th December 2010.
The girls met up with the commission of instructors at the Doezal Community Centre to prove to themselves and to the commission that they are taking this two-year general education course seriously and responsibly as students and teachers and as pioneers of a project the likes of which Chechnya has never seen.
The two-year study plan was put together freely and autonomously with absolutely no directives from above. This is the result of a number of years' experience and the life experiences of women/mothers and witnesses to recent Chechnyan history. The idea behind thinking up their own, comprehensive education programme was the need to pass on to girls often born and growing up without parents and during the war a comprehensive sum of skills and knowledge to help them in life and work.
Final exams for the first year saw the girls drawing slips of paper with exam questions. Here is an example of one set of questions:
1. Excel and its possibilities. Creating a document. The Internet and the social network. Areas of use.
The next day came the ceremonial assessment and the handover of certificates, all accompanied by a meal together at a table prepared by the girls themselves.
Given that financing for the Semja Community Centre programme ended in November, the lease of the premises on which the education programme could be operated ending at the same time, everything took place at the apartment of doctor and head of the medical courses Lena.
Our Practical Institute is therefore in all seriousness becoming a family or home school. Part of the course next year will be held on the kitchen premises and the sewing workshop wherever those teaching these courses are living.
We can mainly thank contributions from Lejla Abbasová's Medela project and other collections, such as the one initiated by Gender Studies in Prague, for the creation of the project and its operation to date.
We will be most grateful for all contributions and advice in looking for funds for the onward financing of this project, which has had to fight for survival from the very outset.
The Eva Practical Family Institute (PRIE)
(A school of practical education for girls in Grozny)
Berkat has been active in Chechnya since 2001. From offering specific help to individuals who for a variety of reasons have never left their homeland, we gradually began to create programmes whose aim it was to teach our friends to help themselves and subsequently others. And so it was that the Iman centre, originally a training and self-help centre, was set up in Grozny and we were able to support the Maro children's dance group, which twice visited the Czech Republic. The Semja local organisation programme was also created in Grozny with our help. Thanks to kind investment made by Czech donors and the Czech state we have the chance to continually monitor the developing situations of families, women and children in Chechnya, to maintain our close contact with this country and to look for ways of working with the people to help return to them a feeling of having a normal life. We also have the chance of using personal contacts to dig deeper into cultural contexts and differing mentalities and find contact points in our work together.
After six years of work in Chechnya we would like to concentrate more on the second part of the statement "People are joined by misfortune and culture"; in other words to promote practical education and training and the facilities available to those we are helping stand on their own two feet.
PRIE wants to use the energy of the female community which we have worked with in Grozny for a number of years now and to pass this on to the young generation of Chechen women that want to stay in Chechnya despite growing up in complicated social and economic conditions. We want to "bring them up" as open young women that will be equipped with the abilities to find their own way and help themselves, their families and their country.
The composition of courses at PRIE:
PRIE will be based in a house with garden and courtyard that has been leased from the Semja Fund (with whom we work and whom we support) since 2005. This house has become a community centre over the past three years, a place where women, children and old people come together every day for various purposes - to work, to chat, to meet up, to discuss their medical and mental problems, to take courses (computing, sewing, hygiene, traditional dance) and to use the equipment in the sewing workshop etc. Semja this year wants to open a course in English and a course in cooking as part of the Cuisine of Nations enterprise. The house will also become home to a children's corner, a library and a Czech Culture Centre this year.
Women interested in studying at PRIE will be accepted from the people already known to the Centre, women known to colleagues from social work in the field or young students from different schools in Grozny. The condition for acceptance is interest in any active (albeit minimal) participation in the work of our Czech-Chechen society and in future cooperation with the Semja Fund. We will work together with the team of women and teachers to try and help students take the next step - find work, set up their own specialised organisation or business etc. - during the two years in which a student at PRIE successively passes through all courses in the study and practical programme. We recommend that a maximum of 5 students be accepted for the first, experimental year of PRIE.
We are looking for:
Funds to cover the wages of three full-time and two part-time members of staff. Plus investment in training materials, aids and books.