Folk dances performed by Chechen children touched Czech peoples' hearts
(Prague Watchdog) - In the first half of January 2003 the Chechen children dance group Marsho went on its first tour abroad. The tour took place in the Czech Republic on January 6-18 and was a great success. The concerts in Prague, Brno, Zlin and Ostrava were sold out and an extra performance had to be given in Prague on January 17.
"The interest in the performance of the children surpassed all our expectations. We were only afraid of the cultural aspect of the event putting in the shade the idea to highlight the ongoing crisis in their homeland," said Jana Hradilkova of the organizing civic association Berkat.
The children of the dance ensemble came from the Chechen refugee camp Sputnik, located at the Chechen-Ingush border. Berkat invited them to show their dance art abroad within its project "Before the War I Had Toys", on which the Czech civic association was working for more than a year. The aim of the project was to show the Czech public the dismal situation of civilians living in Chechnya and refugee camps in Ingushetia, as well as providing tangible assistance to the children.
Berkat also prepared a varied programme for the Chechen children, who had numerous possibilities of encounters with local children from towns where the concerts took place.
"We consider the tour a great success," Hradilkova said adding that according to preliminary estimates over 200,000 Czech crowns were raised during the tour. The money will be used for the "People in Ruins" project, aimed at assistance to civilians living in Grozny, which was destroyed as a result of Russian military operations.
The tour took place under the auspices of Czech Minister of Education Petra Buzková and financial contribution was provided by many sponsors. "During the tour we entered into preliminary talks with municipalities about possible stipends for Chechen students," Hradilkova said.
(A/T) RELATED ARTICLES:
· Full coverage of Marsho's tour (PW / Berkat, January 2003)