Call for Help to Chechen children, women and families!
(April 2011)

kurz Rozy.jpgThis is an appeal for support of our community educational program for young women of Chechnya.

For more then ten years we have been building and cultivating mutual relationships within the chechen-czech community on the grass roots level. At the beginning there was a spontaneous solidarity movement between Czechs and Chechens, victims of war and since then we have learned a lot. from each other We have managed to build the educational, social and community program for women, orphans, elderly people and others who were most damaged by the recent violent decade in Chechnya. MORE


10 years of Berkat's activities in Chechnya - general report
(March 2011)


salon3.jpgBeginnings: aims and profile of the activities

The Berkat association was founded as a reaction to the sympathetic response that resulted in the autumn of 1999 from the extreme violence committed during the Russian-Chechen armed conflict against the civilian population in Chechnya. The initial aim of the newly founded association was to systematically begin transforming the emotional solidarity that the people of the Czech Republic felt into clear, practical action and to create the space for ideas and to involve individual people willing and able to help gradually improve the living conditions of people who did not want or could not escape from Grozny before the war. Another important aim was to learn, through meeting and helping people in Chechnya, about their character, culture and traditions and, in so doing, to try to avoid the myths and prejudices that arise through media propaganda. MORE



The Practical Family Institute - the first year for real (January 2011)


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. MORE



Patisserie and Delicatessen in Grozny

(SOS collection, Friend-to-friend aid, September 2010)

SOS_delicatess.jpgDreams, visions and wishes are like seeds – they have to be sown at just the right time to gather the energy that brings about results. This is certainly the case in the dream of the Aluminium Queen about a patisserie in Grozny. The destinies of Elza and the patisserie could not be joined, but the idea remained and during this year’s Ramadan our ladies decided to really get moving with making the dream a reality.

Every sponsor that makes a contribution to fitting out the Patisserie will have the chance to eat well and learn about the preparation of Caucasian specialties when they stop off in Grozny! MORE


Support a recording of Chechen eyewitnesses!



(26. 9. 2010) You can now listen to five narrations by Chechen eyewitnesses at the Memory of Nation website. Three men and two women speak of deportation from Chechnya in 1944, life in exile and the most recent wars. The project of recording Chechen eyewitnesses, bringing closer in a unique way the troubled fate of this Caucasian nation, has been up and running since January this year. Recordings of the interviews are available in the original language, with some parts of the transcript translated into English and Czech. You will find the Chechen eyewitnesses at

The idea behind the project, originally entitled “Memory of the Old”, came about as a result of long-standing cooperation between Berkat and Roza Muzajeva, director of the Semja charity organisation in Grozny. The idea was brought to life in cooperation with the Memory of Nation website, which brings together and makes accessible to the public the results of various oral history projects.

You can support the recording of Chechen eyewitnesses project by sending a donation to account number 911676001/5500, Raiffeisen Bank, payment method number (konst. symbol - KS) 558, remittance number (var. symbol - VS) 12345. The cost of recording and processing one eyewitness account (including transport to meet the witness, editing and transcribing recordings, translation into English etc.) is between six and ten thousand crowns. The more money we collect, the more eyewitnesses we will be able to record and make public.

Czech-Chechen events, summer 2010


Chava and Doctor Lena have entered into discussions at the Department of Neuropathology at the hospital in Grozny about the possibility of starting up a project involving rehabilitation exercises for families with children suffering from complex nerve disorders. This would involve an exchange of practice in rehabilitation that draws on the well-known Vojta method. It would appear that this method is not unknown in Russia, but is used extremely strictly only at hospitals and not within the family environment, meaning that the conditions for its genuine effectiveness, based on the systematic and regular nature of exercise, are not met.
  • Major attention is being paid to the question of how and where to begin finding funds so that our team in Grozny is able to buy land with a building on it, even a ruin, from which to gradually over time and with their own hands build their own base, a head office for everything they do. So far we have only had money from grants and collections to cover monthly rent, which is high and which means that everything is more temporary and unstable in nature. This year our entire centre was forced to move premises again, for the third time, and so this is an ever more pressing question for us. As soon as our partner society Semja is able to get hold of its own head office, it will also certainly change its sense of independence and of operating in a broader field of self-help creative activity, something that would be more than welcome after more than six years in the life of the society.
  • One member of our current action group, Tomáš Šmíd from Masaryk University, recently embarked on a courageous expedition after taking it into his head that he and colleague Josef would make for the Chechen mountains to take photographs of the remains of historic buildings – mountain watchtowers. This in spite of the fact that our female colleagues were somewhat nervous about the plan. Tomáš responded to all fears with a few simple words: “Someone has to start and I won’t so anything stupid...” Everything turned out just fine and we look forward to hearing all about it.
  • The central Caucasian mini-library was also set up in Zbuzany in July. It currently holds around 29 volumes, containing historical books about Chechnya, mostly donated and imported, fairytales, photographs, a couple of books published in this country, a Russian-Chechen dictionary, two Chechen language textbooks, a couple of historical/political science titles about the Caucasus region from a bookshop in Vladikavkaz, etc. The collection can look forward to further additions and to a voluntary librarian, who will set about cataloguing all the material to make it accessible to readers. As soon as the catalogue is ready, we will post it on the Internet and the library can begin to operate for all those who want to learn more about the Caucasus region. We should hopefully manage it all by the end of the year.
  • Discussions on financing our program in Grozny next year continue on a number of fronts. Nothing is certain just yet, but we firmly believe that success awaits at least somewhere. Friend-to-friend aid certainly helped out the Kurmagomad family at the end of June. It was something of a Godsend, in fact, given that mother Zalina needed to pay for an operation that has evidently saved her life.


Jana Hradilková




Mrs. Roza Muzajeva, "longest-serving" Berkat colleague in Chechnya, to visit the Czech Republic between 21st and 28th June 2009

roza065.jpgShe was apparently one of the first women to return to the city after the worst bombardment of Grozny to find out what was left of her home. She managed to get home in February 2000, to her half-demolished house full of rubbish (this place by the river was possibly used by a group of Russian soldiers as a temporary base), to find the words "Death to the Czechs" on the wall. (The difference between Chechens and Czechs would appear to escape certain less educated minds in Russia and Europe alike, but this particular piece of graffiti is quite remarkable given the circumstances of the time and what was to follow to this day...)

... MORE

Trust is a very fragile thing

Jana Hradilková

(Concept of recapitulated thoughts to the title "Distinct charity" of the magazine Metamorphosis)

The beginning of Berkat's energy was emotion - pity for people suffering in conditions that are for us unimaginable. We wanted to tie something with this emotion that would have a visible effect - so we started to find ways to do something even though we didn't have anything and we didn't know how.

grozny50.jpgCaucasus as such means for me an essence of the term crossroad. In modern world history a similar role is played by areas such as Balkan, Israel or South America. What happens in Caucasus is not only a matter of the region itself, but reflects a conflict that is a key for western civilization.


The Doezal Centre in Grozny: January - August 2008

pratelska_pomoc.jpgBy way of introduction I would just like to again reiterate for the umpteenth year that what we do in Chechnya is not humanitarian aid. For eight years now we have been working to the benefit of and together with the women of a city that was almost completely levelled those eight years ago. Together we come up with ideas and bring them to fruition to help these women and others find lost balance and tackle the difficulties of a life marked by disaster. ...MORE

Children from Grozny again visit the Caspian Sea

(27. 08. 2008) Last year we and our colleagues from Grozny resolved to bring to fruition a bold idea - to allow children from broken or the very poorest families the chance to take energy from the sea, sun and vitamins for a week at Izerbash spa by the Caspian Sea. I have just received an SMS from Roza Muzaeva, our longest-serving colleague and local icon of helping the needy, to tell me that the group of women and children arrived safe and sound, the weather is fine and they are all happy. They have promised to send pictures as soon as the Internet is working. They send their greetings and a big thank you to everyone who contributed to the event this year (special thanks go to the Šebera family and to Sarah Brock).

As administrator of the Friend-to-Friend Aid programme, from which we are financing this trip, I should point out that we have only taken in around one quarter of the required funds for this event this year. We have had to take the remaining money from unresolved contributions to the programme (subject to agreement with families from Grozny, of course), and therefore from the funds that we would normally invest in autumn in buying school equipment and clothes for children from "friend families" or in helping families with essential repairs to housing in emergency condition. I would therefore like to remind you that if you do decide to contribute to the current "Recuperative Holiday for Children at the Caspian Sea" programme, you will be delighting us and the children of Grozny and helping people for whom your assistance means a great deal.

(Account number: 911676001/5500, Raiffeisen Bank, constant symbol 558, variable symbol 111111)

Recuperative holiday by the sea for children from the ruins of Grozny

DSC00077.JPG(4. 7. 2008) Almost thirty children from the ten worst affected families in Grozny are again able to plan a recuperative holiday by the Caspian Sea this year. With this we are building on a project from last July, when our colleagues in Chechnya organised this holiday for the first time with our financial assistance (details HERE). It was one of the most successful projects run by the Community Centre in Grozny and you now have the chance to help the sequel, as it were.

Last year's holiday took place by the Caspian Sea at the Priboj sanatorium in neighbouring Dagestan. This is a treatment centre for children with anaemia, lung diseases and immunity defects. For Chechen children whose health is none too good the visit to the seaside was literally a dream come true. The overall enjoyment of the event was helped by the stance of the manager of the sanatorium, who took excellent care of the children and provided the whole group with a considerable discount.

SOS operation as part of the Friend-to-Friend Aid to Families in Grozny project

26 children from the ten worst affected families will again be chosen this year to go on a recuperative holiday by the Caspian Sea. The accompanying team will consist of a doctor and three assistants. We plan this year's trip for the end of August.

The price of one day's stay, including treatment and meals, is 800 roubles, with a 200 rouble discount for Chechen children. The total costs therefore come out at 18 800 roubles per day. The minimum length of stay is 5 days; in other words 94 000 roubles (2550 EUR, 5400 USD).

Name of account number: Obcanske sdruzeni Berkat

IBAN: CZ1824000000000000633633


Account number: 911676001/5500, Raiffeisenbank, constant symbol 558, variable symbol 111111

More information is available from Jana Hradilková - tel.: +420 608 829 535, e-mail:


The "Friend-to-Friend Aid for Families in Grozny" project run by Berkat, an unincorporated association, was set up in 2003 and has been run in cooperation with the local Doezal community centre (Semja, Rodina (Family)) since 2005. The project is based on aid provided by Czech donors to Chechen families living until now in broken or alien, half-demolished houses or apartments. The families involved usually have a number of children, a single breadwinner, sometimes adoptive, and have lived through the entire war in Grozny. They have lost family members, their breadwinner, their health and the roof over their heads. Aid for these families relies on the organisation of so-called SOS campaigns: a team of women at the Doezal centre recommends an individual way of helping a specific family based on their acute needs at that time.

Translated by Channel Crossings


News from the Chechnya section from winter to spring 2008


(2. 7. 2008) The beginning of July is a time for great uncertainty and mounting problems to come to an end as a payment from the Ministry of the Interior for the 1st quarter of 2008 has arrived in the Berkat account, bringing an end to the period of waiting and uncertainty as to whether we would be able to continue with our projects at all.

  • It was in December 2007 that together with colleagues from our partner organisation Semja (newly registered under the name of Regionalnyj obščestvennyj fond) we rounded off a three-year programme supported by a subsidy from the Ministry of the Interior and private sponsorship.
  • We would like to continue and began working on plans as how to move forward at the start of autumn. Another project was created and was announced on the Ministry of the Interior website on 27th November 2007 as having been accepted in the subsidy programme for 2008 and 2009. Together with colleagues we worked on creating a rigidly structured budget for each month in advance. Roza, Fatima, Lena and Chava were as convinced as we were that the funds would be released from this subsidy by March at the latest. A team of our colleagues set about working on the new project in January; the reconstruction and renovation of the Centre building got underway and the kitchen was equipped. The existing courses, the sewing workshop and other courses in cooking and English began in earnest in February and a children's play area was opened.
  • We have endured six months of waiting for the funds from the Ministry of Interior subsidy, approved in November 2007, to be released. And so the beginning of July is a time for great uncertainty and mounting problems to come to an end as the payment from the Ministry of the Interior for the 1st quarter of 2008 has arrived in the Berkat account. We were only able to pay off debts on rent and investments in getting the Centre up and running thanks to the base we have for our collection.
  • Julie, a volunteer from our group, used her own funds to see what it is like at Semja in the second week of April. Photographs from this visit can be seen in the Photogallery section.
  • It was at the same time that we embarked on a trip to the USA together with Dáša, another volunteer from the Chechnya section. We showed films of the Berkat and Maršo projects in several places here and followed this with debates on contemporary life and our work in Chechnya and Grozny.
  • Cooperation with the Medela project was undertaken and if the benefit campaign reaches a successful conclusion, this will be able to support the idea of creating a Practical Family Institute in Grozny.
  • We are gradually launching new websites about Chechnya, the English version at, through which we want to provide the space to offer information from our working and cognitive perspective and to all other people and groups that we cooperate with and that we know are interested in the situation in Chechnya over the long term.
  • A working party has been meeting at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague for six months now to deal with the organisation of Czech Days in Grozny. The festival was originally planned for October 2008, but given the increasing uncertainty of both parties (the Czech and Chechen) we decided to put off the organisation of the festival until spring 2009.
  • Another stage of the Friend-to-Friend Aid programme culminated with the end of a three-year collection and the use of the funds collected. The nicest moments of all were a trip for children to the seaside and handing over proceeds from the collection to treat a little girl called Madlen. We would like to thank all kind donors and hope that they will stick with us and with our friends and families in Chechnya in the stages to come. Everyone is looking forward to actually meeting their benevolent "Czechochechens" one day.

Translated by Channel Crossings

Nebyl nalezen žádný článek.
Prague Watchdog - Crisis in Chechnya