At the School on Kominterna Street, children, their parents, and teachers happily join in the festivities celebrating the first day of school. With so many smiles, it’s hard to believe that just across the street, in the gym of the old Beslan School No. 1, is a memorial to the children and adults whose first day of school turned into a nightmare.
Nine years ago, on September 1-3, 2004, over one thousand children, teachers, and parents were held hostage by Chechen terrorists. They were held in the school gym for three days with almost no water and food. Bombs were strung between the basketball hoops and around the room. Following chaotic gunfire, the bombs detonated and part of the gym collapsed, killing 334 people, including 186 children, and injuring 810.
What was supposed to be a joyous first day of school became a tragedy.
In October following the tragedy, Keystone Human Services sent experienced mental health professionals and Student Assistance Program specialists to Moscow, Russia to train and assist clinicians from Beslan who were providing support to their community day and night for 40 days straight. Many of these same clinicians continue to provide support to Beslan to this day since the attack on School No. 1.
If there’s one thing we understand, it’s that it takes many years to heal and learn to cope with the effects of a tragedy. The need for healing continues long after the tragedy itself, and so we continue to provide support to the Children’s Rehabilitation Program at the Polyclinic in Beslan. These services continue to provide valuable support to the children and adults affected by the tragedy that took place nine years ago. Children and adults have access to family counseling services, psychiatric services, home visits, and other creative therapies, as they cope with anger, anxiety, sadness, confusion, and the loss of loved ones.
The gym of School #1 is now filled with photographs and flowers. Across the street, children laugh and learn as the school year begins. And we continue to support the children, adults, and families affected by the School No. 1 tragedy so they can live their lives and look toward the future with hope. If you would like to join us in supporting the services at the Polyclinic in Beslan, please make a donation. Every contribution helps and is greatly valued by our colleagues in Beslan.