Zarema Omarova – Russian Federation

Linked with Toita Yunusova – Russian Federation, and with Fatima Gazieva – Russian Federation.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “Peace is when children can be merry, when it is possible to carelessly enjoy the sun and the wind, the rain and the snow. I live with the hope that such peace will return to Chechnya”.

“O ursoaica, murind de foame, a decis sa–si manance propriul pui. Dar mai intai l–a tavalit prin noroi, ca sa nu–l recunoasca,” spune un proverb cecen. Asa a procedat Rusia cu noi, mai intai ne–a aruncat in noroiul terorirsmului, ca sa ne poata inghiti cu usurinta, – imi spunea zilele trecute Zarema Omarova. (full text).

Zarema Omarova - Russian Federation redim 70p.jpg

Zarema Omarova – Russian Federation

She works for Ekho Voiny/Echo of War (mentionned on Prague Watchdog), and for Dieti Chiechni/Children of Chechnya.

Victims of Stalin’s deportation of the Chechen people to Central Asia, Zarema Omarova (born 1941) and her parents returned to their motherland in 1957. Zarema has worked in different educational establishments in Grozny introducing progressive teaching techniques. She also worked as a secretary at the regional Communist Party committee and for the Deputy Minister of Education of Chechnya. In both these positions, she promoted inter-ethnic peace.

An active member of the NGOs Echo of War and Children of Chechnya, she is engaged in peace activities and providing humanitarian aid to Chechnya. Zarema Omarova is a remarkable representative of Chechen women. After 13 years of deportation in Central Asia and Kazakhstan she returned to her homeland to shoulder a heavy burden, which was also a very inspiring challenge – the cause of the Chechen national revival.

Zarema was born in Vladikavkaz in 1941. In 1944 Zarema and her parents were deported to Dzhambul, Kazakhstan. She finished school in 1958 and shortly after that entered Grozny Pedagogical Institute from which she graduated in 1963.

From 1963 to 1983 she was a teacher at Grozny Pedagogical College. During this time she taught students, worked selflessly with those who came from remote villages, helped them to fill the gaps in their knowledge, and travelled the whole country with the purpose of providing methodological help to elementary school teachers.

From 1983 to 1985 she was the principal of the boarding school No. 15 in Grozny where 440 orphaned children from underprivileged families lived and studied. Zarema actively worked to bring the authorities’ attention to the needs of the school, which was in a state of neglect. Shortly afterwards, thanks to her vigorous and devoted work, great changes in the living conditions of students took place: the quality of the food and the healthcare improved and educational and teaching techniques were enriched. The school held all-Russian contests for pupils and conferences and seminars for teachers of the Republic.

From 1985 to 1990 Zarema was the secretary of the Regional Committee of the Communist Party in Grozny; she enrolled in the party during the Perestroika period in the USSR. Zarema’s activities were aimed at improving inter-ethnic relations in the region, providing help to cultural establishments, public health services, and educational establishments.

Between 1991 and 1993 she was the first Deputy Minister of Education of the Chechen Republic. Being an experienced teacher well-known in the republic and a skilled organizer, who had proved her efficiency on different positions, Zarema actively worked to introduce advanced pedagogical ideas into everyday teaching in Chechen schools.

From 1993 to 1999 she was deputy director of Grozny Pedagogical College and the head of the department of distance-learning courses.

At present Zarema is engaged in public work in the anti-war humanitarian NGOs ‘Ekho Voiny’ (’Echo of War’) and ‘Dieti Chiechni’ (’Children of Chechnya’).

Zarema has been engaged in teaching and training for 38 years. She has trained hundreds of elementary school teachers. She has been engaged in securing help for orphans and children from low-income families, and providing humanitarian help to least privileged children since 1998.

In her work Zarema uses a mixture of formal and informal methods: oral and written appeals, speeches, interviews, interaction and information exchange; meetings, seminars and humanitarian actions.

The most complicated period in Zarema’s work was the time of the first Chechen war, and especially the post-war devastation. The building of the Pedagogical College where she worked was badly damaged. She went to work all the same, risking her life in a time of constant explosions and bombardments in the streets of Grozny. There was neither light nor heating in the classrooms, and the roof leaked. Everybody wore coats and gloves during lessons because of the intolerable cold.

Zarema did not receive a salary for three years and still continued to teach students – future teachers in Chechen schools. She continued her public work: analyzing the situation in Chechnya, taking an active part in conferences and seminars and appearing in the media.

During the second military campaign, Zarema was forced to leave Chechnya and leave behind her home and work. She now lives in Moscow, but regularly visits Grozny and other towns of Chechnya and is engaged in active public and humanitarian work.

Zarema has devoted more than three decades to intense, selfless and fair work in the field of education in the Chechen Republic. Her work has contributed to the creation of a new generation of spiritually free people: they are free from any ethnic prejudices and racial narrow-mindedness. Many well-known Chechen writers, scientists, and public figures are Zarema?s former students.

Today many of Zarema?s pupils are no longer in Chechnya: some have died while others have left the Chechen republic but her lessons of tolerance, compassion, and inter-ethnic understanding have yielded their results.

One example of this is a trip to Moscow (organized in 2000-2002) for around 100 Chechen children who stayed with Russian families. The children had an opportunity for respite, sightseeing and mental stimulation and understood that there are many people in Russia who sympathize with them and are ready to offer a helping hand.

Zarema passed on to her pupils clear thoughts and high moral and ethical principles which she inherited from her parents. At a turning-point in Chechen history Zarema became a mediator between older and younger generations and both her world-view and life values have greatly enriched the world of a new intellectual elite in Chechnya.

Based on a synthesis of the tradition of children’s upbringing in a family and advanced achievements of pedagogical ideas, Zarema?s pedagogical experience has more than once become a topic of discussion at regional teachers meetings and conferences.

Zarema is a public figure known not only in Chechnya but also in the whole of North Caucasia. Her appeals to the population of the republic and speeches at regional forums are marked by a particular humanism in the approach of solving acute problems of inter-ethnic and international relations. (1000PeaceWomen).

links:

Chechen Civil Society Forum;

Russia News Archives, June 2007;

Chechnya, Terror and Impunity;

Prague Watchdog;

picture show (she is behind the 2 girls on picture …302);

Chechnya Weekly;

International Committee for the Children of Chechnya;

children drawings of chechnya;

What War Has Done to Chechnya’s Children;

Articles about Russia on July 5, 2007:

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