Psychosocial

Annual budget: £12,000

Main donors, 2012-13: United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Alligator Trust (UK), Berghof Foundation (Germany)

Little Star children

The ‘Little Star’ psychosocial rehabilitation project was set up in 1997 and today employs a team of twelve professional local psychologists who conduct psychosocial workshops in 11 schools and at the Chechen State University to address psychological distress and trauma caused by violence and human rights violations in Chechnya for 1500 young people and their families each year. 30,000 young people and around 2500 parents have been assisted by Little Star since 1997, 40 local experts have obtained advanced psychology degrees, and curricula and training manuals have been developed. Little Star also provides regular training to teachers at the request of the Chechen Ministry of Education.

The change process of restoring mental health to younger generations and their families is a vital component to building sustainable peace in today’s Chechnya. The principle behind this project is that in order to build long-term sustainable peace and a healthy civil society that is resilient and can contribute to problem-solving without resorting to violence, the psychological health of people in the community, and particularly that of young people needs to be addressed. Psychological trauma needs to be alleviated to enable individuals to overcome fear and confusion, which so easily leads to confrontation and violence. Healthy young people are far more likely to want and be able to play a constructive role in building a peaceful and prosperous society, and to focus on a positive future – perhaps to study or learn a useful skill – rather than being trapped by negative experiences from the past. The Little Star project helps to restore health and bring relief from suffering to the children and young people attending it, thereby addressing personal health issues that could otherwise lead to violence in the future.

Little Star children 2

Peacebuilding UK also supports the ‘Daimohk’ Chechen children’s dance ensemble (please see separate page), which is also in many ways a psychosocial project, offering the young dancers and their society a positive and creative focus. The young people involved in Little Star and Daimohk, instilled with a stronger sense of hope, confidence and self-awareness are less prone to resorting to alcohol and substance abuse, which is a serious problem among young people in Chechnya and other areas of the North Caucasus today. Peacebuilding UK last hosted the Daimohk dancers in the UK in 2009, and are discussing with them a possible visit in November 2013.