how the World Abaza Congress develops and brings the culture of the Abaza people to the world
The World Abaza Congress (WAC) is a public organization that unites Abkhazians, Abaza and Ubykhs living both in their historical homeland, in Abkhazia, and in the countries of the diaspora settlement: in Russia, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Europe, the USA and others countries.
The WAC declares its main goals as follows:
Strengthening the ethno-cultural unity of the peoples: the Abaza people and the Ubykh people.
Preservation and development of native culture, language, traditions and customs.
Strengthening the ties of compatriots abroad with their historical homeland.
Participation in the economic, social and cultural development of the Republic of Abkhazia.
The history of the World Abaza Congress goes back to 1992, when during the Patriotic War of the people of Abkhazia the International Association of the Abkhaz-Abaza (Abaza) people was created at the first convention of representatives of the Abkhaz-Abaza ethnic group. Subsequently, it was reformatted and renamed.
Organization transformation, new approaches and structure
Five years ago (December 7–9, 2017), the VII Convention of the Abkhaz-Abaza people was held in Sukhum, which marked a new stage in the history of the organization. A prominent public and state figutre, philanthropist Mussa Ekzekov was elected its Chairman. A new name was approved - the World Abaza Congress (WAC).
The very structure of the organization has undergone significant changes: in particular, the positions of president and general secretary were abolished and, on the contrary, a new body was established - the Supreme Council (SC WAC). The December forum continued in March 2018: the delegates took a break to present the new charter of the organization, form a list of members of the Supreme Council and the Audit Commission, and prepare a concept plan of a new information Internet portal for its further launch. According to the new version of the Charter, conventions were still supposed to be held once every five years, and the rest of the time all issues were settled by the Supreme Council.
At the initiative of the new leader of the organization, Mussa Ekzekov, the strategic direction of the organization's work changed: the WAC began to focus on creating a network of regional and local representative offices, special programs for each country of residence of the Diaspora.
Since that moment, a system of local branches (LB) of the WAC began to actively form in the towns and villages of Abkhazia. They were necessary in order to get first-hand information about the needs of the people and to arouse the initiative in society. According to Mussa Ekzekov, this is how the basis is created for the formation of a joint development program with the residents of the settlement. At the same time, this contributes to the strengthening and development of civil society in Abkhazia.
In order to change people's lives, we must know how each Abkhazian and Abaza family lives. We need constant feedback and cooperation. Any work should be collaborative: residents of settlements propose specific projects that they want and can implement. Everyone invests his or her labor and means. The WAC team initiates and coordinates the implementation of projects.
—Mussa Ekzekov, Chairman of the Supreme Council of the WAC
The WAC team is united in the belief that the main goal of the Congress – to unite Abkhazians and Abaza, regardless of their place of residence, and to include them in the processes of creation in the interests of the people, is achievable only when conditions are created for realizing the potential of each representative of the people. The extensive network of local branches created by the WAC works perfectly for this purpose.
To date, they are open in all regions of Abkhazia, in total in 54 settlements of the Republic. The plan is to cover all 112 settlements. Another 10 local branches of the WAC operate in Turkey. In general, outside of Abkhazia, representative offices operate in such towns, regions and countries as St. Petersburg, Moscow, Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Stavropol Region, Jordan, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Great Britain.
The WAC team implements projects in various areas: educational programs, charity events, major sports, cultural, commemorative events, reading contests. In addition, representatives of the organization actively participate in public events in Abkhazia.
In May 2018, the first foreign trip of the new head of the World Abaza Congress took place. Mussa Ekzekov, together with the Executive Secretary of the organization Inar Gitsba, visited the Republic of Turkey, where he met with the leaders of the Abkhazian Federation of Cultural Centers (Abkhazfed). The trip program included visiting a number of cultural events organized by the Abkhazian cultural centers in Istanbul and Adapazari. The visit was of a familiarization nature, it was important for the new leadership of the WAC to establish contacts with the Abkhaz-Abaza Diaspora in Turkey and outline ways for further cooperation. Diaspora leaders, in turn, assured the WAC that compatriots abroad would be involved in social and cultural processes both within the Congress and in Abkhazia.
In October of the same year, the Congress delegation - Chairman of the Supreme Council Mussa Ekzekov and Executive Secretary Inar Gitsba - again arrived on a working visit to the Republic of Turkey. This time, the objective was to discuss in detail plans for the joint work of the WAC and public diaspora organizations - the Federation of Abkhazian Cultural Centers in Turkey (Abkhazfed) and the Federation of Caucasian Cultural Centers in Turkey (Kavfed). Another purpose was to develop a systemic structure of the Congress in the Republic of Turkey and a detailed work plan of the WAC in Turkey.
Working meetings then took place in Istanbul, Ankara and the Sakarya region. The leaders of the WAC and Abkhazfed signed a protocol on interaction and cooperation. It assumed the restoration of family ties, the expansion and strengthening of ties between the Abkhaz-Abaza Diaspora in Turkey and their historical homeland. At a meeting with the leadership of the Federation of Caucasian Cultural Centers (Kavfed), an understanding was reached on many issues. The delegation also met with the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Russia to Turkey Alexey Yerkhov. At this meeting, mutual coordination and participation of the Congress in the implementation of significant cultural and humanitarian projects in Turkey was discussed in accordance with the agreements between the leadership of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the head of the Supreme Council of the Congress.
The work on establishing contacts with the Diaspora in 2018 was not limited to visits to Turkey. In November 2018, at the initiative of the WAC, an evening of the Abkhaz-Abaza Diaspora was held in St. Petersburg, where hundreds of representatives of the Abaza people living in the city and students from Abkhazia and the KChR gathered. The event was attended by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Abkhazia to Russia Igor Akhba, who noted that such meetings contribute to the unification of representatives of the Abkhaz-Abaza people.
The year 2018 was marked by another important event in the history of the organization, which deserves special mention: shortly after the start of the work of the World Abaza Congress, an information portal was launched in a new capacity. Abkhazians and Abaza from all over the world got the opportunity to follow the events in their historical homeland, study the history and traditions of their people, communicate with each other and participate in the projects of the Congress. Officially, the information portal of the WAC was presented at a press conference in the studio of the Abkhazian Television on September 18, 2018.
For five years, the information portal has been publishing materials on the history and culture of the Abaza people in six languages; this platform allows implementing information and educational projects, cover important events in Abkhazia and Diaspora news. Such work, of course, provides great opportunities in bringing together representatives of the Diaspora living in different countries of the world. The portal is managed by the Information Department of the WAC, headed by Amina Lazba, its employees are Shazina Bganba, Selma Bazba, Denis Chkheidze.
Literally, from the very beginning of its work, the new WAC team confirmed in practice its intention to support and implement social projects, including in the field of youth work and sports. Under the auspices of the organization, in July 2018, the V Games of the Abaza people were held in Karachay-Cherkessia, which the WAC held in partnership with the International Association for the Promotion of the Development of the Abaza-Abkhaz Ethnos "Alashara" (ANO "Alashara").
The Cup named after one of the founders of the Congress, the President of the International Association of the Abkhaz-Abaza People (IAAAP), Doctor of Law, Professor Taras Shamba was played. Teams from Abkhazia, Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Moscow, Stavropol, Jordan and Turkey took part in the tournament. They competed in sports such as football, volleyball, running, air rifle shooting, arm wrestling, long jump, archery and tug of war.
The WAC makes a significant contribution to the development of society and in the field of science. Therefore, in 2018, Mussa Ekzekov approved the program "Abaza and Abkhazians: Preservation and Development of Languages and Historical and Cultural Heritage", developed jointly by the Academy of Sciences of Abkhazia and ANO "Alashara".
The program involves conducting field and other research, collecting and fixing ethnographic material, publishing scientific works of Abkhazian and Abaza scientists.
All leading Abkhazian and Abaza scientists, including ethnic Abkhazian and Abaza researchers living abroad, as well as young researchers and foreign specialists who have experience in the preservation and development of languages, have joined the work on the implementation of the program.
Participation in festive events
With the active assistance of the WAC, on July 23, 2018, the Day of Culture of the Abkhaz-Abaza people and the Day of the State Flag of the Republic of Abkhazia were widely celebrated in Cherkessk. The Diaspora in Turkey also joined the large-scale events in Abkhazia and Karachay-Cherkessia. Festivities were held on the outskirts of the city of Eskisehir and in the Abkhazian village of Tandyr, attended by about 1,500 compatriots.
On September 30 of the same year, on the Day of Victory and Independence of Abkhazia, in Moscow, in Krasnaya Presnya Park, the "Apsny" Festival of Abkhazian Culture was held, which the Moscow Abkhazian Diaspora organized. The Congress took part in the festival; a WAC pavilion was established, where volunteers spoke in detail about the work of the organization, the main ideas and values, around which the work of the Congress is built to unite compatriots around the world. An ethnozone decorated in the Abkhazian traditional style was also deployed there, and a mini-exhibition based on the "Historical Banners of Abkhazia" project was held. Visitors to the festival could fill out a questionnaire right on the spot and join the WAC.
On the same day, September 30, already in Sukhum, the WAC organized a children's holiday on the Embankment. While animators entertained the children, adults could test their strength in a national dance competition and a quiz on the history of the World Abaza Congress. The WAC team prepared memorable gifts for the participants. Special guests of the holiday were the children of the charitable organization "Kiaraz" and the Cultural and Charitable Foundation "Ashana", as well as the children of veterans of the Patriotic War of the people of Abkhazia of 1992-1993.
In the very first year of the new team's work, the "Soul Warmth" campaign was launched, which later became permanent. With the onset of autumn, in September, representatives of the Abkhaz-Abaza Diaspora in Turkey, on the initiative of a member of the Supreme Council of the WAC and the head of the regional branch of the WAC in Turkey, Ahmet Khapat, collected and handed over 1,200 sets of new warm clothes to needy families in Abkhazia.
Khapat recruited cultural centers (derneks) and businessmen to fundraising. On October 4, the cargo was delivered to Sukhum. The WAC handed over all the things to public and charitable organizations, as well as the Ministry for the Repatriation of Abkhazia for subsequent targeted distribution to those in need. Part of the sets of winter clothes was handed over to the invalids of the Patriotic War of the people of Abkhazia in 1992-1993, located in the Republican Rehabilitation Center of Gagra.
After a short time, the action was continued - this time it was organized by the WAC, the Federation of Abkhazian Cultural Centers of Turkey (Abkhazfed) and ANO "Alashara". New winter clothes were distributed to needy families in Abkhazia on New Year's Eve. The following year, 2019, the distribution also took place in several stages, as a result of which representatives of the Congress distributed more than 1,000 pairs of winter shoes to needy children in Abkhazia and Abaza children from the KChR.
In order to implement the main task of the WAC - to unite representatives of the Abkhaz-Abaza ethnic group from all over the world, to establish strong ties between compatriots, in 2019 the leadership of the WAC visited the countries of compact residence of the Abkhaz-Abaza and Ubykh Diasporas: Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
The Congress team met with representatives of the Diaspora, public and political figures of the countries of residence of compatriots. The meetings were fruitful: we managed to establish contacts and outline ways of cooperation. The WAC presented the activities of the Congress as an organization that strengthens the ties of the Abkhaz-Abaza family around the world, promotes ethnocultural values and interaction between Diasporas and their historical homeland.
Work of regional and local branches
The WAC continued active work on the organization of Local branches in the cities and towns of Abkhazia and Turkey. In 2019, regional branches were also opened in Western Europe: Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Executive Secretary of the WAC Inar Gitsba headed the regional office in Abkhazia.
The regional branch of the WAC in St. Petersburg, which at that time was headed by Temur Rekvava (later the head of the Sukhum office of the WAC), and the St. Petersburg House of Nationalities signed a Cooperation Agreement in 2019. It allowed to officially hold joint events: national holidays, seminars, scientific and practical conferences, round tables, creative meetings, concerts and many other things. At the St. Petersburg regional branch of the WAC, the Abaza national dance ensemble began work at the same time. In 2019, the employees of the Local branch of the WAC in Gudauta showed themselves actively, implementing three projects at once: they built a workout site, installed garbage bins in the town, and installed water supply to one of the schools.
Work of the WAC office
In 2019, a new structure was created - the Office of the WAC. This structural subdivision ensures the statutory activities of the WAC and the fulfillment of the instructions of the Chairman of the Supreme Council for the organization within the powers of the Administration. The Abkhazian diplomat Kan Tania became the head of the Office, Mikhail Kalinkin became the deputy head, and Tengiz Tarba became another deputy and part-time head of information policy and communications.
The Office pays special attention to the coordination of the work of the Regional and Local branches of the Congress. Moreover, the main tasks of the Office include the preparation of annual plans of events of the Congress, submitting them for approval to the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the WAC and monitoring their implementation. They also include the formation of annual financial and other reports, preparing meetings and events with the participation of the Chairman, working with citizens' appeals and solving other tasks in accordance with instructions of the Chairman.
Participation in festive and commemorative events
The new WAC team introduced Youth and Women's Councils into the structure of the organization, the work of which was directed towards a more effective solution of the problems of youth and women. Teams of the central branches of the councils were formed. Thanks to their well-coordinated work, in 2019 it was possible to organize and hold such large-scale events as the International Children's Day and the Day of the State Flag of the Republic of Abkhazia.
In April 2019, representatives of the WAC, the dance group of the regional branch of the WAC in St. Petersburg and a member of Congress, singer Diana Shashura took part in the IX St. Petersburg Festival of Culture of the Peoples of the Caucasus.
In May, members of the WAC, headed by the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Congress Mussa Ekzekov, and other representatives of the Abkhaz-Abaza Diaspora took part in the celebrations for Victory Day in St. Petersburg. They laid wreaths at the monument to the fallen at the Piskarevsky Memorial Cemetery, where there are stones in memory of the defenders of Leningrad, natives of Abkhazia and the KChR.
On May 21, on the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Caucasian War, the WAC for the first time held a commemorative event with the lighting of the traditional Abkhazian Ashamaka candle and the Nart fire, honoring the memory of the victims of the tragic events of the 19th century and forced resettlement. Since then, the action has become traditional and is held annually.
In 2019, the World Abaza Congress for the second time took part in the open festival of Abkhazian culture "Apsny" in Moscow. At the festival, which took place in June on the territory of the Krasnaya Presnya Park, there was a Congress pavilion where anyone could join the WAC.
The Congress did not remain indifferent on the Day of Knowledge. Employees of the organization distributed five thousand school notebooks to first-graders in Abkhazia, on the back of which the Abkhazian alphabet, proverbs and sayings in the Abkhaz language and national symbols were printed. Next year, the following first-graders received useful gifts as part of a similar action.
Sport and culture
In March 2019, a literary evening was held in St. Petersburg dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the outstanding contemporary writer Fazil Iskander. The youth activists of the Local branch of the WAC organized the event. At the evening, young people read poems and excerpts from the stories of Fazil Iskander, sang national Abkhazian and Abaza songs, performed folk dances.
In July, the annual cultural and sports festival "Abaza" was held in Karachay-Cherkessia, which was opened by the VI Games of the Abaza people. More than 600 people from various regions of Russia and abroad took part in them. The International Association for the Promotion of the Development of the Abaza-Abkhaz Ethnos "Alashara" and the World Abaza Congress organized the festival and the tournament, as before.
In October of the same year, the WAC organized the "Abaza" festival in Abkhazia. It was attended by Abkhazian and Abaza dance and musical groups; within the framework of the festival, exhibitions were opened, master classes were held based on the traditional bason weaving (weaving braid on fingers - ed.) and gold embroidery, as well as a food court of traditional Abkhaz-Abaza cuisine.
Preservation of the native language
One of the most important areas of work of the WAC is the preservation of the Abkhaz and Abaza languages. The Congress approved a program for the preservation and development of the native language, history and literature until 2026 under the scientific guidance of linguist Sergey Pazov, with the active participation of prominent Abkhazian and Abaza scholars. The program is available online on the website of the WAC and ANO "Alashara". Together with experts, the Congress developed and released a number of teaching aids for learning the Abaza language, video lessons, popular animated films were translated into Abaza, and new songs were written.
Another important social direction that the Congress is implementing is projects in the field of education. First, in this regard, the work of the Discussion club, which was opened at the Sukhum office of the WAC in 2019, should be noted. The Discussion club is a platform that allows to hold open offline and online lectures on Abkhazian culture, history, ethnography, literature, the development of domestic science, environmental protection, organize interactive meetings where leading experts in their fields are invited. Moreover, the Discussion club has a grant system. Anyone can propose their own socially significant project; it is discussed with experts and, if approved, receives funding from Mussa Ekzekov, Chairman of the WAC Supreme Council.
In the same 2019, the Parents' club began to work at the WAC - a meeting place for parents and well-known experts in the field of raising and developing children. The format of discussions about conscious parenting has become very popular and received many grateful feedbacks.
In 2020, at the Sukhum office of the WAC, the Discussion and Parents' clubs continued to work actively. During the year, 20 meetings were held on the topics of environmental conservation, ecology, maternal and child health, and psychology. During the year, the work to open local branches continued: 31 local branches were added to the existing ones in Abkhazia, and 8 in Turkey.
The Congress team organized and held 28 events, actively participated in organizing the holiday for the Day of the Flag of the Republic of Abkhazia. Several important educational projects were also launched in 2020. It is worth noting that the organization is actively involved in the fight against coronavirus in Abkhazia.
Activities during the coronavirus pandemic
Since the introduction of a state of emergency in Abkhazia due to the spread of coronavirus infection, the WAC has restructured its work to protect the health of the country's residents. This turned out to be possible in cooperation with the Interdepartmental Operational Headquarters for the Protection of the Population of Abkhazia from Coronavirus, the "Kiaraz" charity organization, the "Adgylara" public information center and the Moscow Abkhazian Diaspora, which also assisted Abkhazia in acquiring the necessary medical equipment, medicines and food. The WAC helped the families of repatriates who needed food in a difficult situation. This is 126 people.
During the pandemic, the WAC information portal changed the format of its broadcast and regularly published reports from the Operational Headquarters to protect the population of Abkhazia from coronavirus infection.
The Chairman of the Supreme Council of the WAC Mussa Ekzekov handed over to Abkhazia medical equipment and personal protective equipment necessary in the fight against coronavirus. The head of the WAC SC purchased medical equipment according to the list provided by the Operational Headquarters under the Ministry of Health of Abkhazia.
The regional branch of the WAC in Turkey, in turn, organized the payment of cash benefits for the period of quarantine to Abkhazian students studying in Turkey.
WAC charitable activities in 2020 were not limited to the fight against coronavirus. The organization helped with the construction of a house for the family of a rural teacher in Baslakhu. Friends and partners of the Congress donated building materials. The WAC also helped to renovate the sports hall in the Dzhirkhva Secondary School.
In 2020, the WAC again presented notebooks and diaries in the Abkhaz language with national symbols as a gift to schoolchildren from the villages of Abkhazia. It also handed over football, basketball, volleyball, handball balls and volleyball nets, which were sent to Abkhazian schoolchildren by compatriots from the regional branch of the WAC in Turkey under the guidance of Ahmed Khapat.
Preservation of the native language
In 2020, the WAC prepared a video course "We speak Abkhaz / We speak Abaza". These are more than 300 lessons published on the organization's website and social networks. They are available and adapted for representatives of the Abkhaz-Abaza Diaspora in different countries of the world who speak different languages. The project was supported by the Moscow language school Capital School Center, which posted video lessons on all its websites.
Abkhaz language courses opened in St. Petersburg in the same year, and Abaza courses resumed after a short break in Moscow, with the financial support of the WAC.
Preservation of intangible heritage
An important role in the promotion of the non-material cultural heritage of the Abkhaz-Abaza people is played by the project of the WAC and ANO "Alashara" "Amazara" (in translation from Abkhaz means "treasury"). The author of the idea of the project was Mussa Ekzekov.
To date, within the framework of the project, several films have been made about the intangible heritage of the Abaza people, which have already been watched by tens of thousands of people around the world. The first film in the cycle was a film about the Abkhazian national dance; work on it began at the end of 2020. In general, the project is designed to show the beauty and deep meaning of the traditional culture of the Abaza people.
It is interesting that thanks to "Amazara" it was possible to save the almost lost art of making traditional Abaza knives: work on a thematic film about the ancient craft of the Abaza led to the fact that in Karachay-Cherkessia they specially purchased equipment and created a workshop where they today train those who wish.
Work with children
In June, when most of the restrictive measures in Abkhazia were lifted, the World Abaza Congress organized a children's holiday in the village of Atara, dedicated to the International Children's Day. Then, at the request of the residents, the WAC held a holiday for children from the villages of Pakuash, Reka, Baslakhu, Akuaskya and Gup, in which more than 200 children took part. A similar holiday was organized at the "Old Village" in Sukhum.
Another important and interesting project of the WAC was implemented jointly with the public organization "AMCH". Within the framework of this project, called "Ашьҭра" (in translation from Abkhaz means "genus, origin" - ed.), excursions to the historical places of Abkhazia are conducted for children from rural schools. On trips, schoolchildren are offered a nutritious breakfast, and at the end of the tours, picnics are arranged in nature. In addition to visiting historical sites, the program includes national Abkhazian games that children play during their holidays.
In 2020, it was possible to conduct an excursion to the Anakopia Fortress, after which the project was suspended due to the aggravation of the pandemic. It resumed in 2021 and was renamed "Aimadara" (in translation from Abkhaz means "connection of generations" - ed.).
In October 2020, the Executive Secretary of the WAC, Inar Gitsba, and a member of the Supreme Council, Inver Alshundba, traveled to Syria, where they held meetings with representatives of the Abkhaz-Abaza and Circassian Diasporas. Representatives of the Congress spoke in detail about the goals and objectives of the WAC, its activities, projects and plans. Compatriots in Syria showed great interest in the work of the Congress and expressed their readiness to implement joint projects.
The Congress team in 2021 implemented a significant number of initiatives aimed at the development and strengthening of ethno-cultural values, the preservation of intangible cultural heritage. At the same time, the activities of the WAC were carried out taking into account the epidemiological situation and restrictive measures in Abkhazia and the countries of residence of the Diaspora. Work on opening local branches did not stop: in 2021, 11 new branches of the WAC were established. Work continued on the admission of new members of the organization.
Work of local branches
In 2021, the WAC laid the "Memory Alley" of 85 trees in the New District of Sukhum in memory of the residents of the district who fell in the Patriotic War of the People of Abkhazia in 1992-1993.
On the initiative of the members of the municipality, in the village of Kaldakhuara, with the financial support of businessman Denis Otyrba, a weightlifting section in a boarding school was equipped with sports equipment. In the same village, members of the WAC team cleaned and restored a public stop on the Republican Highway.
In Mgudzyrkhua, the WAC helped to repair the assembly hall, and in Chlou, a sports hall for the freestyle wrestling section.
In the school park in Baslakhu, the Congress, together with local residents, installed more than 70 information plates with the names and quotes of Abkhazian writers. By September 1, the classroom in Otkhara Secondary School was renovated, and in Pitsunda, easels were purchased for the fine arts section and gifts were handed over to participants in the children's chess tournament.
The WAC team, with the active help of students from the Gagra Abkhazian School, planted trees on the territory of the school, and then, together with the public organization Colors of nation, held an open meeting-lecture on environmental initiatives.
In just five years of work of the new WAC team, local branches have implemented 107 projects in various fields, be it sports, cultural or educational projects. The Department for Work with Local Branches, which is headed by Dmitry Zhiba, supervises this work within Abkhazia; the specialists of the department are Kherson Simonia and Damir Garzolia.
Traditionally, in 2021, the WAC team actively participated in commemorative and festive events. Children's holidays were held in Sukhum and Gudauta, in St. Petersburg, together with the Okhta youth center, the WAC organized and held a festive concert dedicated to the Day of Victory and Independence in the Patriotic War of the people of Abkhazia.
Preservation of the native language
In 2021, the WAC and ANO "Alashara" supplemented and approved the program for the preservation and development of the Abkhaz-Abaza language. The updated action plan consists of six parts: training and retraining of teaching staff, training of scientific and scientific-pedagogical personnel, development and publication of educational literature, theoretical and applied research of the Abaza and Abkhaz languages and popularization of knowledge on the Abaza language and literature. Online courses of the native language continued. Thanks to the project of the WAC Discussion club, the first audiobook in the Abaza language was published - this is Bemurza Tkhaytsukov's book "A Handful of Earth", dedicated to the Caucasian War and the resettlement of the Abaza to the Ottoman Empire in the second half of the 19th century.
Education and science
One of the important achievements of the year for the Congress was assistance in obtaining higher education for compatriots. Thanks to the WAC agreement signed earlier with the St. Petersburg State Forest Engineering University, eight applicants from Abkhazia in 2021 got the opportunity to study at this university on a budgetary basis with the provision of a hostel. In 2022, the number of such first-year students has grown to 18.
WAC also signed an agreement with the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera). This made it possible to conduct joint activities: work is underway on a collective monograph, an exhibition is being created using archival photographs of the Kunstkamera, scientific articles are being written and published, field research is being carried out and young scientists are given the opportunity to enter graduate school.
In 2021, the Sukhum office of the WAC hosted a series of lectures on the history, culture and ethnology of the Abkhazians. The lecturer was a member of the Supreme Council of the WAC, the famous Abkhazian ethnologist Marina Bartsyts.
The World Abaza Congress also organized a lecture on the historical, cultural and linguistic unity of the Abkhaz-Abaza people in the village of Uarcha. It was read by a member of the Supreme Council of the WAC, director of the Abkhazian Institute for Humanitarian Research named after Dmitry Gulia, a well-known Abkhazian scholar Arda Ashuba.
The cycle of meetings of the Parents' club in Sukhum continued, and field meetings of the club were also held in Gagra.
The implementation of sports projects in all previous years has been one of the main priorities for the Congress team. The year of 2021 was marked by the opening of a branch of the academy of the Russian football club "Zenit" in Abkhazia. The WAC played an important mediating role in this. The work of the branch of the "Zenit" Academy stimulates the development of football in Abkhazia, makes it possible to educate sports personnel in the Republic and gives talented football players the prospect of playing on the Russian and world football arenas.
In 2021, the "Aimadara" educational project was continued, within which children, accompanied by teachers and parents, visited the Novy Afon Cave, the "Pride" Lion Park, and listened to an educational lecture in the "Apsny" ethnopark. More than 400 children from various rural schools have already taken part in the "Aimadara" project.
As part of the "Amazara" project, three videos were created and presented in 2021: about national dances, about the Abkhazian folk song "Нарҭаа рышҭыбжь" (in translation from Abkhaz means "Echo of the Narts" - ed.) and about the traditional Abaza knife craft.
In July 2021, the WAC organized and conducted the intellectual game "Ииарбан? Иаба? Ианба?" ("What? Where? When?"), dedicated to the history and ethnography of the Abaza people. Filming took place in the studio of the Abkhazian State Television and Radio Company. The video version of the game, as conceived by the organizers, allows reaching the largest possible audience both in Abkhazia and abroad.
The WAC donated special equipment for the wards of the "We Are Together" center in Tsandripsh: exercise mats, balancing and step platforms, as well as special rollers necessary for doctors to work with children. A children's playground was installed in the courtyard of the center. The center specializes in the rehabilitation of people with disabilities; most of its wards are children.
On the day of the liberation of Gagra during the Patriotic War of the People of Abkhazia in 1992-1993, on October 6, WAC employees presented gifts to war veterans, wards of the Republican Association of War Invalids "Apsny". They were given TVs, heaters and warm blankets.
The organization donated bactericidal recirculators and non-contact thermometers to ten schools of the Republic, which was especially important at the peak of the spread of coronavirus infection.
At the end of the year, or rather, on the New Year's Eve, the WAC handed over food and sweet New Year's gifts to families with many children in Abkhazia and families in a difficult life situation, who are under the patronage of the Social Service. Assistance was provided to families from the Gagra district: these are residents of Gagra, the villages of Tsandripsh and Gechripsh, the villages of Makhadyr, Lapstarkhta, Alakhadzykh and Bzypta.
Right before the New Year holidays, the WAC installed a playground on Adygeyskaya Street in Sukhum.
In February of the current 2022, at the initiative of the Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia Vito Grittani, the WAC team organized a press conference of Deputy Matteo Dall-Osso on "The right of peoples to self-determination. Abkhazia and Greater Europe." It was held in the Italian Parliament, in Rome. The President of Abkhazia Aslan Bzhania, the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the WAC Mussa Ekzekov and the WAC Chief of Staff Kan Tania took part in it and made a speech.
As in all previous years, in 2022 the Congress paid significant attention to information work. It is worth noting that thanks to the efforts of the WAC staff, a documentary film was made about the Abaza freestyle wrestling club, which turned 10 years old in 2021.
The film tells about the history of the club, created by the Chairman of the WAC Supreme Council, philanthropist, master of sports of the USSR in freestyle wrestling Mussa Ekzekov. Filming took place in Moscow, Naro-Fominsk, St. Petersburg, Sukhum and Gudauta.
In addition, the WAC launched a series of video interviews with members of the Congress team as part of the new project "WAC Faces". Its author was the editor-in-chief of the WAC information portal Amina Lazba. The creators of the project have already recorded several video conversations with the staff of the Congress office in Sukhum, then it is planned to conduct interviews with the staff of the Central Office of the WAC in St. Petersburg and with members of the Supreme Council of the WAC.
As part of the "Amazara" project, another film was shot about the intangible heritage of the Abkhazians and Abaza; it is dedicated to the Abkhazian song. The director and screenwriter of the film was the Honored Artist of Abkhazia, director of the Samson Chanba Abkhazian Drama Theater Madina Argun. Today, as part of the "Amazara" project, three videos are being developed - about wedding ceremonies, the manufacture of national instruments and the Apsuara code.
WAC organized in Abkhazia the first screening of a new short film "Asys" ("Lamb"), based on the story of the same name by the people's writer of Abkhazia Alexey Gogua. The director of the film is a graduate of the S.A. Gerasimov All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) Amina Kvarchia.
With the support of the Congress, the Abkhazian cartoon "The Heroes of Abraskil" was translated into English. Its author and creator is the artist and animator Astamur Kvitsinia. The editor-in-chief of the WAC information portal Amina Lazba worked on the translation.
Education and healthcare
Since September 2022, the Department for Education, Social Activism and Healthcare has been opened at the Sukhum office of the WAC. Izolda Khagba headed it and Naur Khishba became the specialist. The department launched a series of first aid trainings and career guidance. Already more than a hundred schoolchildren in the villages of Gudauta and Ochamchira districts learned how to properly provide first aid, under the guidance of a professional rescuer, they learned how to bandage wounds and artificial respiration techniques. As part of this project, each school in the Republic will be presented with a pharmacy kit consisting of first aid supplies.
The Discussion club at the Sukhum office of the WAC continues its work under the leadership of Rustam Zantaria. The activity of the club today is devoted to the issues of Apsuara.
The work of the lecture hall at the Sukhum office of the WAC continued: the historian, member of the Supreme Council of the WAC, Dzhambul Indzhgiya, gave three lectures on the culture and history of the Abkhazian people, anyone could attend them.
Sports and youth work
In July, the VII Games of the Abaza people, organized by the ANO "Alashara" and the WAC, took place in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic. As part of the annual cultural and sports festival "Abaza" in Cherkessk, the Day of Culture of the Abkhaz-Abaza ethnic group and the Day of the Abkhazian Flag were held.
In September 2022, for the first time, the Abkhazian folk sports tournament "Ахьышьҭра" was held in Sukhum. Teams of schoolchildren from Duripsh, Dzhgerda, Chlou and Sukhum participated in the competition. The Administration of the city of Sukhum and the WAC organized the tournament. The main goal of this tournament and master classes on traditional games, which Congress representatives hold in various schools of Abkhazia, is to revive interest in Abkhazian folk games, such as "Аимцакьачара", "Ахылпахас", "Акьыаброу", to involve young people in sports and to expand in general positive perception of the Abkhazian culture by the people. The Department of Youth Development and Physical Culture under the regional representative office of the WAC in Abkhazia is actively working in this direction. The head of the department is Valery Berzenia and the specialist is Esma Kvitsinia.
The WAC continued to work to support rural schools. Therefore, in Lykhny, employees of the Local branch of the WAC installed modern sports equipment. All the horizontal bars for the workout were made in a local forge.
The WAC dedicated the first charity event in 2022 to large families. It took place during the New Year holidays. Together with the charitable foundation "World of Childhood" and the tourist company "Tourist", the Congress invited children from large families in the Gagra region to the capital of Abkhazia. A group of 36 children together with their parents spent the whole day on January 11 in Sukhum, and on the way to the holiday, they had an educational tour in the "Apsny" ethnopark.
In 2022, on the initiative of a member of the Supreme Council, the head of the Regional Branch of the WAC, Ahmet Khapat, in partnership with members of the WAC Local Representative Offices in Turkey, the "Soul Warmth" charity event, which has already become traditional, was held. Within the event, sets of clothes and shoes were distributed to those in need in Abkhazia. The compatriots also handed over a batch of gifts to the employees of the Gudauta COVID hospital and the Infectious Diseases Hospital of Sukhum, junior technical staff and nannies from 13 kindergartens in Sukhum and Gulrypsh, as well as the middle staff of boarding schools in Sukhum, Kaldakhuara and Ochamchira and students of the Sukhum Special School.
On Children's Day in June, the WAC organized an exhibition of children's drawings in the capital of Abkhazia, and on the eve of the holiday in the village of Otkhara, Gudauta district, children were taught Abkhazian national games and correct posture.
Under the auspices of the WAC and the ANO "Alashara", Cherkessk traditionally celebrated the Day of Culture of the Abaza people and the Day of the State Flag of Abkhazia.
Activities of the Coordinating Council of Women of Abkhazia
The new project of the Women's Coordinating Council of Abkhazia "The Way to Consent", presented in September this year, is of particular note. The project aims to develop an action strategy in the interests of women. Within the framework of the project, a number of programs have been developed to strengthen the institution and social status of the family, and improve the quality of life. The well-known journalist in Abkhazia and abroad, Ekaterina Bebia, became the Chairman of the Council.
On the eve of the celebration of the 29th anniversary of the victory in the Patriotic War of the People of Abkhazia in 1992-1993, Ekaterina Bebia met with representatives of the movement "Mothers of Abkhazia for Peace and Social Justice". It was a warm meeting, where famous women of the Republic shared their memories and gave parting words to the younger generation.
In October 2022, members of the Coordinating Council of Women of Abkhazia under the WAC took part in the Abkhaz-Abaza Forum, held in the cities of the North Caucasus - Stavropol, Cherkessk, Kislovodsk, and in the village of Krasny Vostok. The main event of the Forum was the signing of an Agreement on the implementation of joint creative projects between a division of the Congress and the public organization of the Stavropol Region "Abaza". It involves the provision of mutual assistance in organizing events, strengthening ties between the older and younger generations.
The World Abaza Congress today is, without exaggeration, a team of like-minded people, each of whom puts great efforts and his soul into a common cause to achieve the main goal: in the end, step by step to help the united Abaza people not only survive as a unique and original organism, but also to grow, develop and prosper. At the same time, as can be clearly seen from the above brief report, the mere desire to implement all ideas and projects is not enough: impressive, serious financial investments are needed to ensure all this work, to support even if it is only about the brightest ideas and the most necessary social initiatives.
To date, financial, logistical and other resource support for the activities of the Congress is almost entirely carried out from one source - the personal funds of the current head of the WAC. This is a very significant financial burden, and today the search for solutions to expand funding sources is becoming especially relevant. The Congress is open to any ideas and proposals. There is a settlement account of the Congress in Sukhum, where donations can be made. Membership fees and donations for various projects can also be made through the Congress website.