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Care for 20 homeless teenagers in Tbilisi, Georgia

by St Gregory's Foundation
Care for 20 homeless teenagers in Tbilisi, Georgia
Georgian hospitality
Georgian hospitality

Our shelter is an open place, where we welcome members of our local community who wish to get involved and visitors from further afield.  Recently, Theresa Tollemache visited from the UK.  Seeing our work with fresh eyes, she gives a good rounded picture of our set up, which we hope you will find interesting. 

"We spent a very happy and extremely impressive two hours at the Mkurnali House and the centre where several young people and families live having been rescued from poverty and a criminal past.  They are all suffering from punishment for petty crimes and in some cases an action that should not be considered as a crime.   Our host Nino Chubabria has dedicated her time to finding legal support for these teenagers and pledges to look after them in the Mkurnali house until they find permanent work.  Jamil has been with her since he was 14 and arrested with a prison sentence for stealing an apple in a neglected garden in his village where he tended the cows.  A few years later Nino has put him in charge of running the house which he does in the most efficient and loyal way.  

We visited Pavel who is working on restoring cars in a garage near to the home.  He is determined to set up a business with a local business man restoring and selling cars and he already had an apprentice who was working with him.   We were shown a little work shop in the house where some of the residents are filling cartridges with ink for re sale.  Pavel’s brother and others also make beautiful enamel earrings and pendants for sale.  

A fine Georgian feast was laid on for us and prepared by Inga who is one of the volunteers.  All those in the house joined us at the table to enjoy really delicious food.  Most were still out working so we did not meet all the residents.

The house itself is spacious and has its own courtyard where they are able to light a fire and make shaslik (kebabs).  The building is in a very quiet area on the edge of Tbilisi, with leafy courtyard gardens, chickens wandering and helpful friendly neighbours mainly from Azerbaijan.  The houses are dilapidated and the Mkurnali house itself is in need of attention.  Their neighbours are going to help them with renovating a concrete stair case and adjoining party wall but the roof of the building badly needs repair. 

Nino Chubabria is an exceptional person and is working tirelessly to help the young men, “her boys” in her words!,  to forge a new life away from the despair they had been living in before.  From her gentle and firm kindness they are learning to build up trust in the world around them and become honourable hard-working citizens.   We were so impressed by everything we saw and know that the support the GlobalGiving community gives them is extremely important for the future of these young people and the people who are caring for them."

 

 

 

Nino Chubabria, Mkurnali director
Nino Chubabria, Mkurnali director
Our courtyard and beyond
Our courtyard and beyond
Parkhat at work making jewelery
Parkhat at work making jewelery

We love a win win solution and that is what we were able to create recently in our own neighbourhood.   Rather than choosing between a troubled teenager and the community he was disrupting, we have been able to improve life for everyone.

Parkhat is a neighbour of ours.  He came from an Azerbaidzhani family who settled in Tbilisi.  He is 15 and a half years old and has been growing up without his mother.  She left him and his father and went off with another man after finding that her husband had cancer. Parkhat’s father is a good, hardworking and honest man and it is terribly sad that he is ill and does not have anyone to help him. He is unable to look after Parkhat whose behaviour became much worse after his mother left them. 

Before we got involved, there were a lot of complaints from the other neighbours:  

- My car was scratched this morning. It must’ve been Parkhat 

-My car was broken into and they stole cash and cigarettes from it. It must’ve been Parkhat 

- Parkhat made my kid smoke cigarettes.  

- He’s a disgusting kid. I forbade him to be friends with my kid. I told him a million times, but he still comes around and calls my son quietly.  

Nino’ our director's car has also been scratched a few times but she and the other neighbours didn’t want to go to the police, knowing Parkhat’s circumstances and the family he grew up in. 

Parkhat was obviously known to the local police, so as soon he reached the legal age of 14 he got arrested for damaging someone else’s property. We found out about it when the other neighbours came to us to ask us to help the boy and save him from imprisonmentWe were all terribly sorry for Parkhat’s father - he was unable to handle this situation on his own as he badly needed help himself.  

We stepped in and talked to the police and Parkhat was finally released without a court hearing. We talked to Parkhat and made it clear that if he wants to put his life back together, we are here to help him. The boy was scared and lost and he promised that he would join our trainning course and change his behaviour. Since then Parkhat has found a second home at the Mkurnali shelter where he spends a lot of time learning his new skill of making jewellery.  He has become great at making beautiful enamel and silver pieces. Now he never misses his school and helps his father as much as he can.  He loves music and jokes and he is just happy and adorable.  

We are very grateful to you for helping us extend our hospitality to young people like Parkhat.  He may not be homeless, but we are thankful that we were able to turn his life around before it went seriously off track.  In doing so, we've made our neighbourhood a better place for everyone.

 

New Year celebrations at our shelter
New Year celebrations at our shelter

Since we haven’t been in touch for a while, we wanted to thank you again for your generosity at the end of last year.  Thanks to the Global Giving community we were able to give 27 young people and children a feast for New Year at our shelter.  We fed a further 32 young people out on the streets. 

To move onto our main news, we would like to tell you about the remarkable story of a young man who was in our care for a time. 

Some families have more misfortune heaped on them in a short time than most of us know in a life time.  When there isn't a good safety net to catch you, the fall can be very hard indeed.  Malkhaz’s family was one of those unfortunate families.  Thanks to our intervention, the generous donors who make our work possible, and Malkhaz’s hard work he has managed to turn his life around.

It all started when Malkhaz’s father had a road accident. His family had to sell their house in order to save him. They bought half-derelict house outside the city with the leftover money. The father could no longer work, so the family was in a terrible situation. Malkhaz’s mother started working as a cleaning lady for several families, but she couldn’t provide for the family on her own. Malkhaz’s father had a nervous breakdown and became an alcoholic. He became abusive and used to beat his wife and son.  Malkhaz’s mother was then diagnosed with cancer and she passed away. Living with his father was even harder for the kid after this.  His father used to make him steal alcohol for him.  Once, while he was drunk as usual, Malkhaz managed to escape. He joined the kids in the street and thus became one of our beneficiaries.

Malkhaz learned enamel workmanship while he lived at our shelter. We also brought him to several crafting schools curated specially for us by AXIS development company. We then helped him to get a job at a hardware store. Malkhaz turned out to be a hard-working young man. He learned the duties of a shop consultant and when he saw the opportunity he applied for a job and he was hired at one of the main branches of the DOMINO store chain. He was a great employee there too and soon enough he was promoted to branch manager. During his work there he met an accountant. They got close, fell in love and married soon after. Malkhaz and his wife rented a home at first then, and recently they managed to buy a small home for themselves in Tbilisi.

We are delighted for Malkhaz and very proud of all his achievements.  Thank you to everyone who donates so that we can give more troubled young people the chance to show what they are capable of.  Incidentally, you might like to know that between 8th and 12th April, the wonderful people at Global Giving will be adding 60% to donations to our project up to $50.  If you'd like a reminder, please follow our Facebook page or let us know by e-mailing sarah.sgf@live.com.

Links:

Our new apprentices and their boss
Our new apprentices and their boss

As the year draws to a close, we're looking back at some of the highlights of this year and forwards to the challenges we'll face in 2019.  We'd like to share with you a few of our proudest moments, and thank you for the support which keeps us going.

  • Three of our families have been rehoused in a small village near Tbilisi, including Artur and Christine and their four children.  For the first time they will have the security of their own house.  They have no rent to pay and land to grow vegetables or keep a pig or chickens.
  • Luka won't have to work the streets at only 11 or 12 years old to support his family after his father died thanks to Mkurnali's help.
  • Two young men from Mkurnali are receiving a thorough training to become car mechanics thanks to a former Mkurnali resident, who has taken them on as apprentices, and a donor, who gave him the chance to expand his business.

Next year we are hoping to be able to reach more children and young people who are living or working on our streets.  Since the start of Giving Tuesday, the Global Giving community has donated $1,190 to our project, and we can add $156 in bonus funds.  This will get us off to a great start in 2019.  Thank you all!  

We'll let you know how we get on, and are always glad to hear from you if you have any questions or comments.  

sarah.sgf@live.com

Luka
Luka's family
Artur and Christine at their new house
Artur and Christine at their new house
Luka
Luka's family

Today is Giving Tuesday, a day of warm glows as we focus on generosity.  My inspiration is the young people living at our shelter, who are leading the way, giving from their meagre salaries to keep another young lad off the streets.  This is their story.

“Meet Luka”, Jemal said to me, and turned on the lights. It was getting dark outsideand I was sitting in the dimly lit room with a computer. I looked towards the door, the guys entered the room and sat on the sofa. I was watching them silently, because I couldn’t understand who Luka was: he was dressed in clean clothes and looked beautiful. He was about 11-12 years old, not really ‘’a child working on the street’’ type. Jemal broke the silence again, “I met him on the street. You know, nothing can escape my eyes… It seemed he wanted to find work there. It was obvious that the streets are no place for him. I walked straight up to him, introduced myself, told him that I was aware he was new there and asked him to tell me what forced him to come out in the streets”. Jemal is our assistant and besides caring for the shelter he goes out in the evening to give assistance when needed to young people in the street.

He continued: “Luka told me that he had 5 siblings, that his father died six months ago. His mother was sick and unable to work, that his elder sister and brother were studying well and they couldn’t afford to work, since they had a lot to study. As for him, he was fast at doing his homework and had more free time, so he decided to get a little money from the street and help out his mother. I promised to help him. Luka then asked me imploringly: “Do you promise to help me?”

Other Mkurnali residents were also in the room. One of them said, whose name is also Jemal: “Luka, look. Streets are bad, not only will you make no money out there, but a lot of bad things happen on the streets. Do you know how many bad people we have seen there?” He then added: “And we've seen beating, fights, humiliation, even imprisonment,” – he continued. “We feel sorry that you have had to do this. Do not quit studying, we will help you. If "Medicare" does not have the funds, we will save some from our salaries and provide you with products every month. You can’t get more than that by yourself”.

Everyone looked to me for approval.

I got the phone number of Luka's mother and called her. I told her everything and offered her to come with us to buy the products for her family. She happily agreed. We sat in my car and went to ‘’Carrefour’’ supermarket where we bought products for 2 weeks and then we drove her home. We promised to help them as long as we could. Luka also promised us to study well and that he would never work on the streets.

Every day we feed around 27 children and teenagers who are still on the streets of Tbilisi, as well as the 14 young people who live at our shelter. It costs just £1.50 or $2.00 to feed a street child for a day and the number we can feed sadly depends most on our income, not on the numbers needing our help.  

If you can help this Giving Tuesday, GlobalGiving will add to your donation if you make it by midnight tonight (ET).  All gifts are very gratefully received and will be put to work helping the most vulnerable children and young people.

 

 

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Organization Information

St Gregory's Foundation

Location: Hampton Wick, Surrey - United Kingdom
Website:
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Project Leader:
Julia Ashmore
Hampton Wick, Surrey United Kingdom

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