Victims of Stalin's deportation of the Chechen people to Central Asia, Zarema Omarova (born 1941) and her parents returned to their motherland in 1957. Zarema has worked in different educational establishments in Grozny introducing progressive teaching techniques. She also worked as a secretary at the regional Communist Party committee and for the Deputy Minister of Education of Chechnya. In both these positions, she promoted inter-ethnic peace. An active member of the NGOs Echo of War and Children of Chechnya, she is engaged in peace activities and providing humanitarian aid to Chechnya.
Zarema Omarova, together with her parents, suffered Stalin's deportation of the Chechen people when she was only three years old. As a schoolgirl, the reasons behind the humiliation of the Principal's disparaging label as a special migrant–reserved for people's enemy deportees–were incomprehensible to her, yet awakened protest in her child's soul. When Khrushchev's thaw began in the late 1950s, the Chechens were rehabilitated and allowed to move back to the Caucasus. Zarema spent her student years in Grozny. This was the time of her youth and of her people's revival. Deported Chechens had been accepted neither to technical colleges nor to institutes. Now they had to catch up on the lost opportunities. Zarema understood that a people's prosperity depends on education; so she decided to become a teacher. When the Russian troops invaded Chechnya in 1995, Zarema's peaceful profession (she was vice-principal of the College) did not cease to exist; only now, it required much more courage and self-sacrifice. The classes took place in unheated rooms, with the distant sound of bombs being dropped. It was then that Zarema enrolled in the anti-war humanitarian NGOs Echo of War and Children of Chechnya in order to help people in these most inhumane circumstances. One of the projects that Zarema organized was the trip of a group of Chechen children to Moscow, where they lived with Russian families. There they could recuperate and warm their souls a little with the realization that many people of good will in Russia sympathized with them. Many of Zarema's students are no longer in Chechnya today. Some of them have perished in the war; others have fled the Republic. Her lessons of tolerance, understanding, and compassion have not been in vain, but will always remain in the hearts of those who have known her.
Ekho Voiny (Echo of War) Dieti Chiechni (Children of Chechnya)