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Ingushetia: popcorn a winner in Nazran

04-04-2008 Feature

The ICRC recently stopped its direct food aid to displaced persons from Chechnya in this north Caucasian republic. Instead, the organization is supporting economic micro-projects. Luba Rosdoieva was given a popcorn machine; she sells her wares at the market in Nazran, the former capital of the Ingushetian Republic.


  ©ICRC/M.S. Desjonquères    
Luba Rosdoieva  
    During the two conflicts that have broken out in the Chechen Republic, tens of thousands of people like Luba crossed the border. Marem, an ICRC employee in charge of aid programmes, recalls that there was not a single public or private building in Nazran that was not occupied by displaced families.

Many have now left again to try their luck in Chechnya or elsewhere. Luba has had to stay in Nazran. She doesn’t have the money to go back and live in Grozny, and she is on a waiting list here for a new home. She is divorced with two children, including a daughter who lives with her husband in Grozny.

  ©ICRC/M.S. Desjonquères    
Luba with her popcorn machine.    
    She welcomes us on the doorstep of her small, sunny shop. There is a lovely aroma of popcorn and cheese pancakes, the delicious regional speciality known as khichini. The machine takes pride of place in the middle of the shop. Thanks to the 30-odd packets of popcorn she sells each day, Luba buys oil, sugar, salt and corn. Her profits enable her to cover essential household expenses. She supports her son and five-year-old grand-daughter, Elita, who suffers from a brain malformation.

Originally from Ingushetia but resident in Grozny since the age of 17, Luba had already fled during the first war; she then returned to Chechnya when the hostilities ended in 1996. In October 1999, she again fled the horrors of the second conflict. She says she never believed such cruelty was po ssible. She lives with Elita and her son in a former factory that has been turned into a collective accommodation centre. An NGO has built them a little wooden house in the courtyard.

Luba is not the only grandmother to support her grandchildren. Her dead brother’s mother-in-law also looks after his three sons. Having gone to Chechnya to fix up his flat, her brother stepped on a mine while salvaging bricks from a destroyed house. He died four years ago while undergoing surgery.

Selected by the ICRC on account of her family circumstances and ability to run a small shop, Luba received her popcorn machine in late 2007. These sweet and savoury snacks, which are very popular with children and the market traders, have given her renewed hope by significantly increasing her income. Because the premises belong to her relatives, Luba does not have to pay rent. This allows her to save a little extra money for Elita, to whom she devotes most of her time and energy.