Our Foundation was set up in the name of Roddy Scott, a war journalist tragically killed by the Russians in the 2nd Chechen war. He was killed in late 2002, after having spent many months reporting and filming in North Georgia and the the troubled region of the Pankisi Gorge. The foundation has been going from strength to strength since its founding by Robin and Stina Scott in 2008.
One of the Foundation’s founder Trustees is BBC foreign correspondent David Loyn, who said:
“Roddy Scott was one of a rare breed of journalist-adventurers who took time to get to know people, and really find out what was happening under the surface. As a reporter, he was brave, resourceful and compassionate, and it literally cost him his life.”
Roddy wrote an email to a friend shortly before he set out on his last trip: ‘I personally think Pankisi is a great story, it’s about the first time I have ever seen the possibility for someone to really lift the lid on everything, rather than the usual journo-grasping-at-straws-with-no-good-sources.’
Before he made this last trip, travelling with Chechen irregular forces, Roddy spent several weeks winning the trust of Chechen refugees in the Pankisi Gorge, a neglected minority in a poor corner of a poor country – Georgia.
There has been a Chechen community in the Pankisi Gorge for a long time, but it has been under pressure from a huge influx of new refugees since Russia invaded Chechnya in 1994. The dislocation caused by the conflict has had a very harmful effect on education, health care, and job opportunities – particularly for women. The Roddy Scott Foundation aims to help ameliorate these problems.
Following their son’s tragic death, Roddy’s parents Robin and Stina Scott, who live in Nidderdale, near Harrogate, visited the region and saw a huge need for development – in particular in education, and in the creation of job opportunities.
Stina said they were moved to act after hearing people’s memories of their son. “We met many families in the villages of the Gorge who had known and admired Roddy for his dedication to their cause; we learned that he was much loved and considered as their own; he had spent time with the refugees, with the wounded fighters in hospital and safe houses, and had played football with their children.”
To begin with, the Foundation estabished journalism scholarships for people from Pankisi, and provided books for English teaching classes, cots for one kindergarten, educational resources for a new kindergarten and a school bus.
Charitable status was achieved in March 2008, by which time ambitious plans were under way to rebuild a school that was burnt down in the fighting, and open a centre for women to meet.
All of the work up to now has been done by volunteers, travelling to the region at their own expense, so all of the money raised goes to help the people of Pankisi.
Vladimir Lozinski, a freelance journalist living in Georgia, travels frequently to the area to monitor developments. He delivered the first consignment of books in the snow, not as straightforward as he’d hoped .. “I bought out the whole stock of this level of books available in the capital. When they have more books I will buy them for the other classes. The school bus got stuck in the snow on Wednesday and had to be towed out by the wood truck. I almost did not make it around the villages myself even in the jeep as the snow was so deep. I also had a flat tyre as a big piece of metal pierced it. Just an adventure.”
On one trip into the mountains, Stina and Robin saw the potential for tourism. Stina said “We were entertained by a Georgian shepherd in his hut (thankfully dry!), with home-produced vodka, many toasts and speeches, and a lamb stewed with herbs in a huge cauldron over an open fire. While the lamb cooked we sat round the smoky fire, and watched the shepherd make cheese from the morning’s milking.”