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Cult Med Psychiatry. 2005 Sep;29(3):309-40.

Stressors, supports and the social ecology of displacement: psychosocial dimensions of an emergency education program for Chechen adolescents displaced in Ingushetia, Russia.

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  • 1Center for International Health and Development, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA. betancrt@bu.edu

Abstract

This study explored the psychosocial benefits of an emergency education intervention serving adolescents displaced by the war in Chechnya. It set out to describe key stressors and sources of social support available to youth served by the International Rescue Committee's (IRC) emergency education program. Interviews were conducted with 57 Chechen adolescents living in spontaneous settlements in Ingushetia, Russia in the fall of 2000. Of particular interest was the degree to which the education program addressed specified psychosocial goals. Findings indicated that young people and their families faced a number of physical and emotional stressors. The data indicated that the emergency education program provided benefits by enriching sources of social support, providing meaningful activity and a sense of hope for the future, and creating a space for young people to spend time and connect to others. However, the contrast between the desire of adolescents "to live like other kids" and the options available to them presented a dilemma for the emergency education program: adolescents craved normalcy, but for any intervention to be delivered, it had to first begin with creative and adaptive strategies that were by no means a complete replacement for formal, mainstream education. The programmatic and policy implications of these findings are presented here.

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