At the end of November 2010, an eleven person emergency team from the Friends of Waldorf Education carried out a fourteen-day long trauma pedagogy crisis intervention in four schools in the south Kyrgyz provincial capital Osh. For this intervention, the Friends worked with the employees of the anthroposophical-special education institution “Nadjeschda” in Bishkek. The emergency pedagogy mission came about after the Kyrgyz education minister invited the Friends. Organisational preparations for the mission were made by the Kyrgyz education department.
In the night of June 11th 2010, there were violent conflicts in the southern Kyrgyz city Osh between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek minority. The conflict is believed to have been started by radicalized Uzbek youths after a disco visit. Hours later, whole city quarters stood in flames. The gas supply to the city had to be shut down due to risk of explosion. Medical care and food supply also broke down. At least 400,000 people fled according to the UNHCR, 90% of them women and children. The remaining Uzbeks holed themselves up in their living quarters. 70% of the buildings in Osh were damaged, whereby about 2,000 Uzbek houses were burned to the ground. The Kyrgyz government representative spoke of 2,000 to 5,000 casualties. The aid organisation “Doctors Without Borders” reported, that about one million people affected by the violence now lack food and drinking water. Many are traumatised.
The UN believes that the unrest was planned for a long-time. “The acts of violence appear to be orchestrated, targeted and well-planned,” stressed the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, in an interview.
Children and adolescents took part on the bloody conflicts as both perpetrators and victims. Perpetrators and victims live in part on the same streets and go to the same schools. They were forced to watch as relatives and neighbours were murdered as well as their houses plundered and burned down. Many fled. Altogether 1,200 pupils were affected by the programs. Almost all of them suffer from the psychical affects of traumatisation.
“Our pupils are suddenly unconcentrated, passive, unmotivated, and strangely dependent. They do not have a desire to learn and cannot follow rules anymore. Most of the pupils are skittish, teary, and have strong fears. Our teachers have noticed many illnesses in the pupils: nausea, headaches, eating problems, and sleep disorders!” reports school director Hpdjiburaeb Avazbek Hatamjanovich about the changes of the pupils’ behaviour after the events in the summer of 2010.
Emergency pedagogy crisis interventions were carried out, in altogether four schools each with about 350 children, each lasting three consecutive days.
Each day began and ended with communal opening and closing circles made up of songs, eurhythmy exercises, and sayings. In between, two workshop units were carried out, where form drawing, rhythmic exercises, eurhythmy, art therapy, and experiential pedagogy were offered. On each of the last work days, short presentations of the results of the workshops were given during the closing circle. The teachers at the schools were integrated into the work with the pupils as much as possible in a “Learning-By-Doing-Method”.
“For the first time since the events in the summer, I have seen my pupils happy again!” summed up school principal Hpdjiburaeb Avazbek Hatamjanovich of school number 69. His colleague Horeva Tatjana Vladimirovna from school number 16 added with astonishment: “After our pleas, the pupils quickly run away. After your closing circles, all of them stay standing expectantly. They are not yet satisfied and crave more!”
The highest praise for the emergency team though, came from the children and adolescents themselves. “If we had worked together in that way, the conflict would have turned out differently!”, said a 16-year old pupil of school number 30 after an experiential pedagogy training for social competences and her classmate added: “Thank-you for bringing joy back into our lives!”.
You can find a full report on the mission here.