Azerbaijan: A repaired kindergarten becomes an oasis of normalcy
You can also sometimes find parents join their children to enjoy a birthday party, taking a break from the harsh realities. The kindergarten is an oasis of normalcy and hope for the community.
Not very long ago though, it was among the many buildings that were damaged when hostilities escalated in autumn of 2020 and children were unable to attend for over a year.
"The windows were broken because of shelling and we were scared that snakes or insects might get inside the building and harm the children. This was one of the reasons why we did not have classes for almost a year," says Turana, the kindergarten's director.
In 2021, along with supporting schools as part of the Access to Education programme, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) supported six kindergartens in Aghdam and Fuzuli districts that were affected by the 2020 escalation.
Creating a safe and healthy environment for children at school is at the heart of the programme. More than 250 children and 30 teachers have been benefiting from the improved infrastructure and new play areas.
"Now the kids in our community are very happy and they have been enjoying the upgraded facility. Our playground is not only open for the kids who are enrolled in our kindergarten, but also for those who live in other villages. Sometimes even kids passing by with their parents are attracted by our playground and stop to spend time playing there," Turana shares with joy.
She emphasizes that playing is not just a fun activity, it is essential for children's development as they learn through it.
Little Deniz, who studies at the kindergarten, flashes a sly smile and says, "I love my kindergarten a lot and I cannot stop playing in the playground. I run to hug my favourite swing every day and don't like to share it with anybody else."
Aynura, the parent of five-year-old Yusif, shares that families have been celebrating the birthdays of their children at the kindergarten since it was repaired. "The facility is very clean and the heating and cooling system works very well so the adults are able to enjoy the parties as much as the kids," she says.
The ICRC is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of people affected by armed conflict and other violence.
Conflicts significantly hamper safe access to education for children in affected communities. Through the Access to Education programme, we support children in conflict-affected areas of Azerbaijan and ensure they enjoy safe and quality access to school and kindergarten.