Chechen children dance group Marsho on "Before the War I Had Toys" tour of the Czech Republic

Chechen children dance group Marsho on "Before the War I Had Toys" tour of the Czech Republic

Between January 6 and 18, 2003, Chechen children dance group Marsho will be touring around the Czech Republic within the project ”Before the War I Had Toys”.

1. History of the project

The idea of the concert was born in November 2001 at a meeting of Petra Procházková, Jana Hradilková (the Berkat civic association), actor Břetislav Rychlík and Mr. and Mrs. Opatřil (the Association of Foster Families). Thanks to the cooperation with Czech NGO People in Need Foundation and its employees from the mission in Ingushetia, we found the dance group Marsho of 24 children in the refugee camp Sputnik on the Chechen-Ingush border. This dance group was supposed to participate in concerts together with other groups and artists in five Czech towns in the summer between August 28 and September 13.

The destructive floods in the territory of the Czech Republic disrupted the preparations of the concerts two weeks before they were supposed to start. As a result, the concert was postponed to January 2003 and all the preparations started again.

2. The idea and the purpose of the concert series:

The children from the Chechen refugee camp Sputnik, located at the Chechen-Ingush border, will show their dance art, which they have been practicing for the last two years under the leadership of teacher Vakha. Dance belongs to one of the longest traditions and the most frequent ways of folk entertainment in Chechnya. Not only does Mr. Vakha teach his children to dance but also he tries to convey abilities of the older generations. For his children the forthcoming concerts will be the first tour in the Czech Republic. Berkat has prepared a varied programme for them. The Chechen children will have numerous adventures and possibilities of encounters with local children of cities and towns where the concerts will take place.

Through the project we want:

- to find friendly atmosphere for intercultural and civil expression of solidarity with children who, having had a bad luck to be born in a difficult historical situation, must live in really appalling conditions.

- to highlight the meaning of personal meetings, and thus to contribute to breaking the barriers that people sometimes, unintentionally, keep as a burden of the post-communist times. These prejudices increasingly take on the form of racism, fear, hatred and intolerance towards other cultures and religions. Furthermore, we also want to show the necessity of overcoming the fear of being different. Our personal encounter with young people from a country devastated by war, with people who are lacking any security, hopes and life chances, which we are used to, should not scare us. On the contrary, the encounter should give people living in material abundance a chance to think about the values of humanity, friendship and sympathy.

- to use the money generated through the concert series not only for further support of the particular dancers and their families, but most of all for the ongoing project of Berkat “Help for People Living in Ruins” (more info in Czech at

- to produce a documentary about the whole event and inform the public about problems of civilians living in the war zones, as well as about the opportunities of meeting people from different cultures.

3. The programme of the concert series:

Brno (11.1. 2003, theatre Husa na provázku, 19.00)

Zlín (13.1. 2003, Velké Kino, 19.00)

Ostrava (15.1. 2003, Divadlo loutek, 14.00)

Prague (16.1. 2003, Akropolis, 19.00)

4. Organization, cooperation and financial support:

The main organizer is the civic association Berkat, co-founded by the Czech journalist Petra Procházková.

The main purpose of Berkat is individual civil help towards improving living conditions of children and families in ravaged Chechen capital Grozny. Such people live in the worst conditions (in cellars, on streets etc.). Regarding its establishment and character, Berkat is not a typical humanitarian organization. Rather, it tries to create the broadest personal involvement of those who need help and those who provide it.

The patronage over the event holds the head of Czech Minister of Education, Mrs. Petra Buzková. In organizing and realizing the whole project, except for Berkat, take part also: Monika and Břetislav Rychlík (the script editors), Sdružení pěstounských rodin na Moravě, (accomodation of the children), Deus Production Company (production), People in Need staff in Ingushetia, the Czech Senate, the Czech Ministry of Interior, the Czech Ministry of Education, the municipalities of Brno, Zlín, Ostrava, high schools in Prague, Brno, Zlín and Ostrava, Jan Pivečka Foundation. Tomáš Didunyk and Tomáš Zbořil does the graphics. Ateliér Spektrum supports print work. The media partner is the Czech Radio.


The majority of the financial backup comes from private donors. An important role plays a financial gift from the JAC Trust (Great Britain) and from the Czech branch of the Caritas International. Financial and other support (accommodation) provides also the protestant church of St. Salvator in Prague.

Important is also the role of other ways of sponsoring.

The Czech Senate, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Czech Airlines guarantee the safe trip of the children to Prague and back. The Czech Ministry of Interior provides the bus for the transport between the towns in the Czech Republic. Several local entrepreneurs provide food. All costs related to preparations like phone calls, Internet fees, travel costs and alike are covered by the organizers themselves.

All the money collected is carefully deposited and will be given out during the event itself. All the sponsors will be given details about the concrete ways of spending money.

Bank info :
Account name: O.s. Berkat
Account number: 51-0614340237/0100
Swift code: KOMBCZPP
Financial institution name: Komercni Banka, a.s., Praha - Vychod

Contact: Berkat, Novovysocanska 554-22, 190 00, Prague-9, Vysocany.,

Coordinator: Jana Hradilkova, Nova 184, Zbuzany, 252 25, Czech Republic
Phone: +420-257-961-047, mobil +420-608-829-535

Translated by Prague Watchdog.



[advanced search]

 © 2000-2022 Prague Watchdog  (see Reprint info).
The views expressed on this web site are the authors' own, and don't necessarily reflect the views of Prague Watchdog,
which aims to present a wide spectrum of opinion and analysis relating to events in the North Caucasus.