Sep 11, 2020

Signs of hope for our homeless in Tbilisi

Dato (left) at the garage with Pavel
Dato (left) at the garage with Pavel

The quarantine conditions in Tbilisi are being eased, but just as around the world, there is no easy return to how things were.  Many of our residents do not have jobs to go back to.  However, life is a little easier than it was.  Our printer cartridge refilling business has partially reopened.  It now brings in 3,000 Lari (about $969/£770) a month, half of what it did before the pandemic hit.   Meanwhile, some of the kitchen cupboards and part of the roof need replacing.

We do of course have plans to help our residents.  We intend to buy more silver-working equipment so that more residents can earn something making jewellery.  We also hope to set a resident up with an online shop.

You can help by donating next week when GlobalGiving will be adding a 50% bonus to all donations up to $50/£37*.  The bonus week starts on Monday 14th September at 9am EDT (2pm for our UK supporters) and runs until midnight on Friday 18th.

In other news, Pavel, our former protege, has also reopened his garage.  You may remember that he has been very generous in offering training to other young people who share his difficult start in life.  One of these young people is Dato (not his real name).   Dato's story is not a happy fairy tale at all. He was a little boy when his father walked away from the family and left him with his young mother. It was the early 90s, one of the hardest times in Georgia. Unemployment, poverty, crime and violence prevailed in the country. The teenage mother wasn't able to look after Dato, and at 6 years old he found himself living on the streets of Tbilisi. He had to beg, steal and fight in order to survive. His violent life led him several times to prison while he was still very young. This continued until he met Pavel and told him his life story.  He said that he wanted to escape his criminal and brutal life but thought that with a criminal past and no vocational education he had no chance of a job.  Pavel decided to take him on at his car repair workshop and teach him the trade.  He introduce Dato to us and asked us to give him a home.We wish Dato well as he starts his new life.  

So we keep on hoping, and working to make that hope a reality.  We are very grateful to all of you who join us in our hope and help to make stories like Dato's possible.  If you'd like to help, make a note to donate on Monday for an added 50% on your donation.

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Aug 11, 2020

Club for deaf toddlers prepares to re-open

Adelia at home
Adelia at home

It's five long months since our club has been able to meet.  We are very much hoping to be able to re-open in September to welcome back familiar faces and to meet new families.  Some of our children will have moved onto kindergarten, mainstream kindergartens at that, and we wish them very well.

In a sense not much has changed since our last report.  We have continued to offer support by WhatsApp and Facebook, continuing to post through what would normally be our summer break.  One of the things we shared was ideas for creating percusssion instruments with items families are likely to have at home.  Music is such an important part of our meet-ups and we wanted families to be able to continue at home.

Adelia's experience shows how music can reach even those children with quite severe hearing loss.  Adelia is one of the youngest in our group.  When we last met she could only just walk.  Her hearing loss is 3/4 and can only be slightly compensated for with hearing aids.  And yet, when we are ready to start music, she would come over and sit on the mat and stretch her arms out towards the drums and the bells.  When the music starts she turns towards where it is coming from and it is obvious she is listening and enjoying it.  She has even started to dance a little, moving her head.  At the end of the session, she always comes up to the music teacher and wants to play the instruments, so now we've incorporated an improvisation into our weekly activities.  Adelia is such an affectionate and talanted little girl.  She is learning signs for the animals, like cat, bunny, dog, and the music is helping her tune into the world around her.  We can't wait to see her and her friends again and to be able to enjoy the music together.

Improvised percussion instruments
Improvised percussion instruments
Jul 30, 2020

How our orphanage-leavers have been faring

Food parcel for Kiril
Food parcel for Kiril

So, as we wrote last time, our work has continued through the Corona virus crisis, supporting young orphanage-leavers now online and by phone.  Initially, as quarantine was announced we were in crisis mode: checking that our young people had money to buy food, and delivering food parcels where necessary.  Many orphanage-leavers work in the informal economy, so didn't get any cash benefits when they suddenly lost their jobs.  In some cases, we have also paid for internet connections, so the young people can keep in touch.

The financial difficulties, have been joined by a series of practical problems, which we have been helping them to work through.

The first problem seems an unlikely one.  The young people, although they use their phones a lot, found it difficult to download and use new services like Zoom.  With their anxiety levels high, it was difficult for them to follow a simple set of instructions.  They needed a lot of virtual hand-holding before we could establish regular online sessions.

Once that issue was resolved, the young people living independently have needed help with:

  • planning their budget,
  • cooking with the ingredients they can get hold of (many are used to eating at work or out at cafes),
  • working out where to go for help if they feel ill or if they have lost their job,
  • and understanding the guidelines and new patterns of behaviour.

The groups have also been thinking about how they can support each other through these difficult times.  As for many of us, some unexpected positives have emerged.  Through the increased use of social media, young people from the different groups, who rarely met before, have been getting to know each other.

Orphanage-leavers are extremely vulnerable during this crisis.  Our approach of building resilience, financial, practical and emotional is absolutely vital.

Now we break for the summer, with a few of the group attending our summer camp.  We will be back in September, when hopefully we will be able to operate more normally.  As ever, we will keep you posted.

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