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Russia: fresh start for displaced families in Daghestan

06-09-2006 Feature

One hundred and fifty families of displaced persons from Chechnya living in Daghestan have been given the opportunity to start their own businesses with the assistance of the ICRC. Since the beginning of 2006, ten families have taken the plunge. ICRC staff member Rustam Koisultanov visited a cafe run by Aminat Shakhmirzaeva in Khasavyurt.

Aminat received a refrigerator, a gas stove and tables and chairs from the ICRC. Twenty-three other project proposals are currently being evaluated by the ICRC.

  ©ICRC/Nastia Isyuk    
  Rustam visits the cafe's new kitchen.    

 A new lease on life  

Aminat and her daughter fled Chechnya during the conflict and settled in Daghestan. Until recently she had been receiving humanitarian aid from the ICRC. When she was presented with the opportunity to become the owner of a cafe in the suburbs of Khasavurt, she seized the occasion.

Our land cruiser enters the courtyard and stops near a four-story building. The door on the ground floor is open and people can be seen through the windows. No one is coming out to greet us, which is no surprise, as the lunch rush is on. The cafe is packed full with employees from neighbouring businesses and organizations. Although the cafe is located in a relatively quiet street, Aminat enjoys a good number of visitors every day.

Aminat is one of ten people who decided to give up humanitarian aid and start their own business. " In the beginning, I was wondering if I would be able to manage, " she says. Making food for people is not easy – it has to be tasty, served quickly and should not cost much. " As it turns out, the cafe's clientele highly appreciate Aminat's cooking, which in fact is not surprising, as she puts all her heart into it.

  ©ICRC/Nastia Isyuk    
  Aminat serves clients during the lunch rush.    

 Appreciation and a regular income  

" People in Daghestan love kurze (Caucasian ravioli), " explains Aminat, as she drops a big portion of it into boiling water.

" I now have the opportunity to earn a living. I do not make big profits, but I receive regular income. It allows me to think about my future and the future of my daughter, " says Aminat.

Little Diana, Aminat's daugther, comes running into the kitchen. " Mum, some more people have come. Let me help you! " The girl starts drying plates one by one. " When I grow up, I will work like Mama, " says Diana. 

We understand that the lunch rush hour is not the best time for conversation. Ten hungry visitors are waiting for their food and their lunch break will not last forever. Aminat asks us to stay and try her specialties, but we say goodbye promising to come back and taste them next time.