Project #10666

Care for 20 homeless teenagers in Tbilisi, Georgia

by St Gregory's Foundation
Hard at work in our enamel workshop
Hard at work in our enamel workshop

Our young people look after each other.  It was thanks to them that we got involved in their friend, Maia's case.  Maia was raised in a wealthy family, her father was a professor and her mother was a lecturer, they were raising her only child in luxury. When she was 7 years old, her parents were in a horrible car crash and they both died. As soon as they passed away a lot of relatives appeared that Maia didn’t even know about. The relatives took everything from her house, and some other relatives moved to the three-room apartment they had (In Tbilisi’s most prestigious district), as if they were going to take care of Maia. She was being abused verbally and physically for a year and when she couldn’t take it anymore she ran away from home and never went back. Suddenly she was living on the streets.

At the age of 16 she fell in love with a boy and they started living together in a rented house. For years they were living peacefully, both of them were working, the boy was working in a workshop, at least Maia thought that he was. One day police came to their house and discovered a lot of stolen items.  Since the boy was not in the house and was in hiding the police caught Maia instead and blamed her for stealing these items.

We investigated and found evidence to prove that the boy was guilty.  We found witnesses and, with the help of street children, we also found the boy. We succeeded in making the boy confess and come to the police. (We also helped him and he was sentenced to prison with agreeable terms.)

Maia was released from prison; we got her apartment back from the hands of her abusive relatives. Maia returned to her own apartment and she is expecting a baby. She is happy and she is looking at the future with hopeful eyes.  This is one more positive result from our programme of legal support for homeless and vulnerable young people that you are helping to fund.

This is not the only good news this month.  We have also reopened our enamel jewelry workshop with the help of another organisation called MAC.  This means that we can give more jobs and training to young people living at our place and to young people who used to live at a shelter for street children that has recently closed.  We have also given a home to some of those from the closed shelter who had nowhere else to go.

We are also helping our wider community.  On the request of the International Women’s Association our boys are delivering food to six elderly people living alone.

Thank you very much for all you do to help our young people to flourish.  If you'd like to help more young people like Maia, then today is a particularly good day to make a donation because it is a GlobalGiving bonus day.  This means that a bonus will be added to all donations made today, 16th March, up until midnight (EDT).

Thank you very much to everyone who supported us in 2015. Thanks to your regular gifts we can plan with some certainty how to organise the feeding of our residents. This year we helped our 21 permanent residents and also didn’t forget about street children who turn to us in search of food which provides a little stability in their lives.

Our house lives on a pretty much hand to mouth basis with donations which we receive from supporters like you and local in-kind donations from individuals and a few organisations. If you would like to make a donation, this would be a great time to do so. Anything you can give us is hugely appreciated.

The challenge we faced this year remains the same as in previous years – we are the only organisation in Tbilisi which takes care of vulnerable homeless teenagers and young adults over 16 years old. Once they turn 16, they are on their own if they have previously been in a shelter or orphanage. There are no state programmes which specifically help these youngsters.

Despite the lack of state support, we do our best to give our young people a secure feeling of home and also look for any opportunity for them to receive vocational and domestic skills training so that they can look forward to a stable future as adults.

One of those training courses is sponsored by the McLain Association for Children (MAC) which continues to provide the basic education for our children and teenagers who need to catch up with general subjects. This organisation also helped us establish an enamel workshop for our teenagers. Once they learn this craft they will be able to earn money for themselves.

With the help of the local TBC bank we are able to pay costs towards the most essential needs of our small children, while our local supporter Tea Dzokhadze gives us 100 GEL/month ($42 or £28). The local Doctor Madona Ukleba and the Mgaloblishvili Clinic look after the health of our children.

This is a magical time of the year and we are also preparing for our New Year celebrations. This year we have received a wonderful gift from the local branch of EBRD – three Christmas trees! Our toddlers Georgy, Vano, Nastya and Mary will take part at a New Year party at their kindergarten – they have already learned their New Year poems by heart.

We are looking forward to cooking Georgia’s famous dish “satzivi” (chicken in walnut sauce) – we have saved plenty of walnuts which we gathered this autumn.  Our friend and the head baker in one of Tbilisi’s restaurants “Oqros Kstkha” Nino Mikeladze will bake us a holiday cake. We will provide a holiday dinner for as many as we can afford to feed. 

We would be very grateful if you can help us to feed as many street children as we can during this festive season. It is wonderful to see their eyes lit up and to realise how excited these children can be at this very special time of year!

Nino and Mkurnali children
Nino and Mkurnali children
New Year! Looking forward
New Year! Looking forward
donations from local supporters - thank you!
donations from local supporters - thank you!
Nino Chubabria (left) and Tamara Dragadze
Nino Chubabria (left) and Tamara Dragadze

It is just 4 weeks to Christmas which our children and teenagers from Tbilisi are really excited about! You can help them celebrate the holidays and their achievements of this year like one big family. Global Giving UK will support them too – they will match each new regular monthly donation set up in December up to the value of £100 – the matching funding to be received after the 4th monthly donation has gone through.

 Regular monthly gifts mean a lot to us, help us plan ahead and know with some certainty the funds we have – and that makes a great difference to Mkurnali. If you can set up a regular monthly donation through Global Giving this month, we can take advantage of their matching offer!

 And now to our news:

Last September we fulfilled one of our long-anticipated ideas – to bring Nino Chubabria – Director of Mkurnali charity to the UK. This is the only charity in Tbilisi which supports homeless teens and young adults and those who have had trouble with the law. One of the fundamental problems is that once these youngsters turn 16, they are on their own, even if they have previously been in a shelter or orphanage. The result is that they end up on the street or in prison. 

With this in mind, our programme for Nino included visits to the UK’s foremost charities and organisations which work with street children and young people. These meetings brought up a whole new range of ideas: how to teach basic literacy for troubled teens and street children; how to provide training for personnel; what street children forums can do for promoting and helping such organisations as Mkurnali and many more. Not least, discussions referred how to preserve the unique work ethic created by the charity over the years.

 Nino says “The information I gathered will be very helpful. This visit was a great experience and each of the organisations that I visited has shown me a fresh perspective of my work and inspired me with new ideas”.

 It was a new experience for Mkurnali residents to run the shelter on their own while Nino was away but they learned a great deal from it, and did a great job, as Nino tells us. 

“In September I had to leave the Organization for 10 days, which was sort of a test for Jemal. He had to take care of the shelter (with the help of the other young people). I want to proudly announce that the boys handled everything in a great way in our social enterprise (a cartridge filling business) as well as for Mkurnali. They also renovated and tidied up the outside of the house including the yard. The boys painted the outside walls and balcony railing. They did it with the money they raised themselves through their employment. Another nice gesture was that they mended the washing machine that I couldn't repair because all of the repairmen that I called said that the machine couldn't be fixed by them, so I had to take all of the laundry and wash it in my own house. The boys found a repairman that could fix the washing machine and also raised money for that themselves. 

Through the help of our supporters, Mkurnali's toilets, balcony floors, kitchen and storeroom got renovated. 

Two months ago we received new beneficiaries: A woman who is a victim of domestic violence and her two daughters (because of the rising numbers of cases in domestic violence, the organizations who work in this field do not have any more resources to deal with these growing numbers). The children are 16 and 2 years old. The 16 year old fell behind with her school syllabus; she was missing school most of the time because of her family situation and we are working on helping her catch up with her school programme.

Also this girl has some behavioural problems and we are working on her behaviour as well, with the help of our friends who are psychologists.

 Last week it was the Georgian National Youth Championship in kickboxing where our Jemal was a referee.

I want to proudly emphasize that in this month there were no brand new criminal cases that were caused by street children.”  Thank you for all your support in 2015!

Jemal and Natia
Jemal and Natia's husband are excellent chefs
Cartridges filling
Cartridges filling
Children from Mkurnali
Children from Mkurnali
Gocha's present

Thank you to everyone who has helped Mkurnali this year.  Thanks to you, Mkurnali is able to house and feed about 21 young people and four children who would otherwise be homeless.  Through Global Giving we aim to cover as much as possible of our food bill so that we can feed our residents and other local homeless youngsters.

Today we will share our latest news and we'd also like to tell you about an opportunity to have 30% added to your donation. Global Giving is holding a final Bonus Day, the last bonus day of the year, starting at 9:00:01 EDT on Wednesday, September 16th and will be adding a fantastic 30% to your donations made via Matching will last until funds run out or until 23:59:59 EDT.We recommend you make your donation as soon as possible if you would like to see it matched.

And now back to our news, which Nino Chubabria, Mkurnali’s Director has shared with us:

“Summer has brought more news to our friendly community of Mkurnali.  Giorgi’s brother (you remember Giorgi and his famous motorcycle) Gocha came to stay in Mkurnali. He is 18 but looks like a 7-8 year old child as his health has seriously deteriorated – his case requires the special attention of doctors: with several medical tests to be done, including prescribing a special diet. Unfortunately the family who looked after him couldn’t afford to cover the medical costs, but thanks to our friend Eka, who paid for tests, it will be possible to apply for Gocha’s disability pension benefits. And even more help came too - Eka’s friends who had learned about Gocha’s problems, hopes and dreams from Eka’s Internet page, made Gocha’s wish come true and gave him a laptop – the latest version of the Apple Macbook. They preferred to give this fantastic gift anonymously and remain incognito (this is a very Christian approach, we feel). I hardly can describe Gocha’s joy and the emotions he felt!

Summer has also kept us busy with daily tasks – we now cultivate a little vegetable garden ; we have bought a few chickens and ducks and have some fresh free range eggs: we now have 13 chickens and 2 ducks and the children are taking care of them with great joy.

Some of the boys started working out in the gym and when they come back they train the little ones. Check their first lesson here:

We were lucky to raise some funds locally and managed to buy the necessary equipment for training.

If you remember, one of our girls, Nato, has got married into a good family. Her husband is a craftsman, a hardworking and reliable person. His family took Nato in very lovingly. We pay visits regularly and we are very happy we are able to help - Nato is expecting a baby and “Mkurnali” gave her a beautiful baby’s crib. Also, as is the tradition in Georgia, especially in rural areas (Nato got married in a county near Tbilisi) we gave her a dowry of various domestic items and hope to help her to buy bedroom furniture so that Nato doesn’t feel different, because Mkurnali is her family”.

Thank you so much for being with us on this journey and giving an opportunity for our young people in Tbilisi to step into adult life with confidence!

Our garden
Our garden

Over the last years, our project Mkurnali in Tbilisi has become more than just a home/shelter for disadvantaged children and young people from the streets of Tbilisi.

More than 400 young people have passed their rehabilitation process, received vocational training and domestic skills and have successfully built independent lives.

They could not do it without your help and support which Mkurnali receives through Global Giving. Your generosity and kind donations help us to keep this project running and developing.

Nino Tchubabria, Director of Mkurnali, shares the latest news from Tbilisi:

“The money that we get from Global Giving helps us to provide essential needs and feed our permanent residents of Mkurnali: 21 young adults and 4 children; and also the project continues to feed and attract more and more hungry teenagers.

Thanks to St. Gregory’s Foundation support, Jemal has started part time work in Mkurnali and helps us with running of day-by-day tasks.

 In Mkurnali the residents are allowed to be more than just disadvantaged street children - this year 18 teenagers became students at foundation courses, learning basic and so necessary studies: writing, spelling, maths, etc. with the help and co-operation of MAC (McLain Association for Children). With the help of Caritas Georgia, one of our girls has started to learn hairdressing and carpet sewing.

 Beso, who recovered after his surgery, has been employed by a construction company as a grinder and painter; he is alive thanks to your help and funds collected though Global Giving, which covered a bill for his surgery. He has a job now and recently met a wonderful girlfriend Maria.

 Some of our young people have also succeeded in job searches: one of the boys works as a chef’s assistant in “ Oqros Katxa” restaurant, 2 boys work in a the city’s cleaning company and one has a job as a landscape gardener thanks to support of Tinatin Shelia.  

 It is very encouraging to know that 3 young people will soon learn how to enamel jewellery at the “Ornament” gallery, with the help of MAC; later they plan to teach other children who want to learn enamelling at Mkurnali’s workshop. These young people look forward to starting a small business in the future and we hope that the Ornament gallery will help them to get employed and receive a stable income.

 Giorgi has been called up for military service three days a week, but he still remains a good supporter to Mkurnali , delivering food by moped which we have bought with your help !”

 Our project in Georgia has a remarkable atmosphere and brings the emotional and social support to young people they would be given by a loving family. A few days ago we have received this joyous news from Nino:

“Natia got married and now lives in a very good family. The family love her as their own child. Mkurnali has helped Natia to get married according to Georgian tradition, we’ve prepared her dowry: Duvet covers, pillows and dishes and a bed. Natia’s husband has 4 siblings. The family plans to buy 10 cows so they can start their own business. They already have a shed and other buildings needed for a dairy business, and we will support them in any way we can”.

We sincerely congratulate Natia and Mkurnali, and celebrate all the recent successes. More than just a project, this has truly become the loving family of Mkurnali. 

Thank you so much for being a part of it and we hope we can continue this great work with your support!



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Organization Information

St Gregory's Foundation

Location: Hampton Wick, Surrey - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Julia Ashmore
Crewe, Cheshire United Kingdom

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