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BESLAN, RUSSIA: Five Years Later
The Struggle to Heal Continues
(Harrisburg, PA – September 3, 2009) It's hard to believe that five years have passed since the unspeakable massacre of innocents at Middle School #1 in Beslan, Russia.
For the unsuspecting residents of this sleepy N. Ossetian village, there is still no escaping the trauma of those fateful days. Terrorists attacked without mercy. The school's 1,000 children and adults were denied food and water and explosives were strung from the gym's basketball hoops. After three days of torment, the bombs detonated from chaotic gunfire. Three hundred thirty-four children and adults perished in the onslaught.
Generous and skilled support came pouring in from around the world, including that of Keystone Human Services (KHS).
Comments Charles Hooker III, KHS's Senior Vice-President and CEO of Keystone Human Services International, “We learned about the Beslan tragedy along with our visiting SABIT dignitaries (Special American Business Internship Program) from Russia. At their request, Keystone sent several highly experienced, post-trauma mental health professionals in October 2004 to train and assist Russian support specialists, and helped to establish a center in the Beslan Polyclinic to provide comprehensive services for children and families.”
Hooker continues, “Today, Keystone's presence is one of enduring, committed, professional support. As experts, we understand that trauma on this scale cannot be neatly contained, emotionally, psychologically or practically. As other non-profits have left the scene, Keystone remains more committed than ever to meeting the complex issues that persist in challenging the children and families of this beleaguered community.”
Even to a casual visitor, the lingering effects of the Beslan tragedy are palpable. The gymnasium, now a memorial to the hundreds who died, is dotted with now-dated photos and floral wreaths; gravesites are adorned with stuffed animals and loving messages. To the countless families of this tight-knit community, it was the first day of school … and the last day of dreams.
“That is why Keystone established a permanent Counseling Center in the heart of Beslan,” comments KHS Founder and President, Dennis W. Felty. “Scores of innocent children have had to re-enter society with physical and mental disabilities that will fundamentally reshape the rest of their lives. Many who survived continue to cope with anger, anxiety, sadness and confusion. The on-going consequences for them and their families are impossible to calculate. As human service advocates with a global Vision, Keystone cannot abandon Beslan's on-going struggle to recover the merest semblance of what was theirs.”
In light of these short and long-term objectives, funds are needed to sustain support for Keystone's Counseling Center in Beslan.
Felty continues, “As if the emotional trauma wasn't enough, the financial drain on these families is profound. Apart from the 300+ who were lost, over 780 people were injured. When you consider the costs of extended medical care, disrupted employment and crippling depression, the consequences continue to threaten the very fabric of family life in Beslan. To further complicate our work, community nonprofits like Keystone cannot tap domestic program funds to meet the mounting costs of providing such emergency supports abroad.”
As such, Keystone Human Services International is asking for continued public support for this critical humanitarian mission. The tragedy and trauma of those three interminable days could take generations to dissipate. Be assured that community service organizations in Russia continue to provide strong supportive action. But in light of the encompassing nature of this crisis, their local funds are not nearly enough.
To ensure Keystone's continued presence in Beslan, the public is being encouraged to forward all monetary donations to Keystone Partnership, 124 Pine Street, Harrisburg PA 17101, Attn: Beslan, or visit us on our web site at www.keystonehumanservices.org. Monies donated will be audited and disseminated through the Keystone Partnership. Further information is available by calling KHS at (717)232-7509 and asking for Ann Moffitt at extension 133. With its headquarters in Harrisburg, Keystone Human Services is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that operates in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Moldova, Russia and Azerbaijan. Keystone provides a complete spectrum of personal supports to individuals with intellectual disabilities, autism, and those experiencing mental illness as well as teens, children and families at risk.