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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June, 2005, 08:21 GMT 09:21 UK
Conflict diaries: Grozny afternoon
Each day this week, the BBC is looking at the everyday lives of people living in some parts of the world that are worst-affected by conflict.

Here, Louisa, a maternity ward nurse who lives in the Chechen capital Grozny, talks about her afternoon looking after the war-torn city's youngest citizens.

Louisa with two babies
Louisa has remained at the hospital throughout the conflict
I work at the maternity ward of clinic hospital Number Four in Grozny. I came to work this morning and took over my babies.

This morning there were 19 babies. Four of them have gone home now after having spent three days at the hospital, and three more have been born since I got here.

We've just taken the babies from their mums after breast feeding. Some of the children are full-up and are now sleeping; the others, it seems, are still hungry and want to eat more.

After we finish feeding them, we will change their nappies and take them back to their mums.

So this is how I work here. Of course the situation is not good; there is still war.

And it's hard to work at the hospital in these conditions.

Stress of war

We refitted this ward on our own and opened it a week ago. The staff painted and varnished it on their own.

It was hard work, but we needed this ward. Now women come here to give birth, and we also have a job. The maternity ward where we used to work was completely destroyed.

The situation is very difficult as it is. The work is difficult, the salary is small - about 2,400 roubles (46 or $85).

For one month it's a tiny salary, but people need to work somewhere. Many people lost their jobs because of this war.

Soldier stands next to a ruined building in Grozny
My son knows only one thing - that soldiers can kill
Many pregnant women here have different diseases. I don't know the cause - either they were not examined or the stress of war caused the problems.

Women get frightened during the mopping-up operations, when the army search for insurgents.

I know one story from our village - a pregnant woman lost a baby when her husband was taken away by soldiers.

It is really hard here to make it through pregnancy. That was her first baby, and she lost him.

I am a widow myself. My husband disappeared. After four months we found his body and buried him.

My son was a year-and-a-half old when my husband died. When he looks at photographs now he asks me: where is daddy?

I tell him that daddy left for work. And he says: "Let's wait together until he gets home."


Of course, it is very hard when a child asks such things. And I know that from year to year there will be more and more questions: Where? When? Why? And I will have to answer them.

He is only four. He doesn't understand what it means to be Russian or Chechen. But I see that he hates people with guns.

People give birth to children, to make families. It's life
He knows only one thing - that soldiers can kill and that's all.

He's always on alert - when he sees the armoured vehicles coming he always tells me about it.

There are many widows now - very many since the first war, since 1995.

I remember one widow who gave birth to a baby here. When she was going home she had tears in her eyes. It is very hard to see such women.

Although people say that it is not the time to give birth to a child, children are born.

People give birth to children, to make families.

It's life - no one's safe from that.

Conflict Diaries are broadcast on the BBC World Service's Outlook programme at 1106 GMT every day this week.


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