Children
 Georgia
Project #10666

Care for 20 homeless teenagers in Tbilisi, Georgia

by St Gregory's Foundation
Vetted
Giorgi with our new donated moped
Giorgi with our new donated moped

You have been helping us feed our residents, all twenty of them, helping us give them a future off the streets and out of prison.  You might not realise it, but you've also been helping us reach out to teenagers who are still homeless in Tbilisi.  We'd like to tell you how two former street children are playing a vital role in reaching out to teenagers still living on the streets.  Jemal and Giorgi both benefitted from our help when they lived on the streets, now they work for our charity helping others.

Jemal remembers how Mkurnali first made contact with him:

The first time I ended up in the streets I got to know some children who lived there and they offered me to spend the night with them. I was hungry and it was quite cold. The children were sitting at a tube that was coming out of a Metro where there was warm coming out and they were waiting for some Nino and Eka. ‘They will come soon and they will bring food and hot cups of tea with them’, said “Vampira”, the boy I became friends with first. They actually arrived soon but instead of Nino and Eka they were Nino and Manana Mgaloblishvili (my daughter’s godmother) –’Manana asked her Armenian friend to make you stuffed vine leaves and brought you sleeping bags. Make sure you look after them.’  This was the first interaction I had with Mkurnali.

Now Jemal works for Mkurnali.  He shops and cooks for residents at Mkrunali’s house, makes sure there are no conflicts between the residents and keep the place clean.  With Giorgi he continues Mkurnali’s outreach work.  Giorgi explains:

“4-5 times  a week, Jemal and I go to places we know with a moped trunk full of sandwiches for children, we talk to them asking if they have encountered any problems. We invite them to Mkurnali and we show them the living space. We suggest they stay if they are planning to sleep in the street that night and to come here in the afternoon to eat and take part in the educational programs. I think the children have a good time with us. “

The generosity of the Global Giving community makes this outreach possible.  You are helping buy the food and pay a modest salary to one of our helpers, who not only seeks out street children needing assistance, but also helps look after our residents.

Both Jemal and Giorgi are very proud of working for our charity, Mkurnali.  Jemal says, “I know a few handicrafts and I’m not afraid of tomorrow. For this I have to thank you and Mkurnali for letting me work here. I am trying to justify your confidence in me and I hope I justify the confidence that the children Giorgi and I meet in the streets  have in us.  They are as happy to see us, and are waiting for us, as we were waiting for Nino and Eka or Manana, or someone else from Mkurnali. Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to be Mkurnali’s official colleague.”

If you want to see this work continue, and would like to see your donation go further than usual, you can donate today, Wednesday 18th March, when Global Giving will be adding 30% to donations (NB this is not available to UK donors donating via globalgiving.co.uk). Bonus day starts at 9am EDT and continues while funds last.

Preparing Gozinaki
Preparing Gozinaki

In Georgia it is New Year that is celebrated first and foremost  and Christmas is more a religious celebration.  Over 24 hours from New Years Eve to New Years Day we laid on a fantastic feast for our residents and other teenagers we have helped in the past, or who are still homeless.  Thanks to your generosity and local donors we were able to feed a magnificent 45 young people.

Georgia is famous for its wonderful food and we put on a menu of highlights for the feast.  We prepared Satsivi (a Georgian dish of  turkey in walnut sauce) Gozinaki(Roasted walnuts covered with honey), red and green Pkhali (a Georgian vegetable dish), chicken salad, Olivia  salad, Khachapuri (cheese pie), Lobiani (beans), cake, sweets and  fruits.

The Georgian style is to set all the dishes out on the table (except the cake and sweets that are brought later) and people help themselves as they please. There is also fresh bread which is used to dip in the sauces.

It is really wonderful that we were able to give so many of our young people a New Year to remember.  Thank you so much for bringing a little warmth at this festive time of year.

If you're tempted to try your hand at making some of this delicious Georgian food yourself, you can find recipes online and we've given you a link to a handy website below.

Links:

Enamel work training
Enamel work training

Thank you to everyone who has supported us through 2014.  Your donations have helped us to feed our residents, and because of that our shelter is more attractive for homeless teenagers.  However, food is only part of the story.  We work hard in partnership with a range of organisations to help our residents find training placements and employment so that they can look forward to a stable future as adults.

  •  This year, with the help of with the help of MAC (McLain Association for Children), we started providing classes for 18 teenagers to help them catch up the basic education they lost while they were on the streets.  As ever, we have also concentrated on vocational skills.
  •  One girl, with the help of Caritas Georgia, started a hairstyling and carpet sewing course.
    Three boys started working in a construction company as grinders and painters.
  • One of the boys started working in a restaurant as a chef’s assistant.
  • Two boys started working in the city’s cleaning service and another one in planting greenery with the help of Tinatin Shelia.
  • Three young adults are going to learn to make enamel jewellery at a gallery in our city, also with the help of MAC.  When their training is complete, they will teach other  residents and we will re-establish our small enamel workshop. We plan to sell the jewellery to church shops, jewellery markets and to the gallery.  The income will provide an income for the jewellery-makers.

At the moment of course we are also preparing for our New Year celebrations.  The numbers living with us vary a lot, but for now we have 21 young people and 4 young children living at our shelter.  At New Year we open our shelter to any homeless teenagers who want to come.  We will provide a holiday dinner for as many as we can afford to feed.  Jemal our chef’s assistant, our friend Eka, our lawyer and another Jemal will make the food, while our old colleague Nino Miqeladze, who is now a restaurant manager and the head of a bakery, will bake us a holiday cake.  To complement our celebrations, the European Union delegation has just given us a big and beautiful Christmas tree, which will look wonderful in our shelter.

Your donation will help us to brighten up this festive period not only for our residents, already on the path to a happier future, but also for teenagers still living on the streets.  Thank you for reaching out to them so generously.

Teona
Teona

We got introduced to Teona when she was 14. Just when she was released from the Children's shelter and she was on the streets again. Teona was selling flowers in the restaurants by night while she and her friends were sleeping in a basement of a wrecked building.

Teona started attending our sewing classes. Teona had 3 rooms in a communal apartment while the other 2 was owned by her neighbours who wanted to get rid of Teona so they could have her rooms and they didn’t let Teona live peacefully there. One day when Teona went home the neighbours dragged Teona into their room beat her up, called the police and said that Teona tried attacking them with a knife that she pulled out, out of her back pocket when the trousers she was wearing didn’t even have a back pocket.

The police caught Teona and the law court was deciding that they were going to give her 4 years of prison but we found out soon enough to get involved and instead of the 4 years they let Teona free.  In the video (http://youtu.be/Wz_Br2b4OUY), Teona describes how frightened she was before we got involved with our legal service.

After that Teona continued sewing classes in Mkurnali and stayed overnight with us too. Teona is now married with 2 children and they live in Teona's communal 3 rooms, because after the trial the police told the neighbours to be careful with the way they treat Teona. At the moment Teona cannot use the skills she learned at Mkurnali because she has 2 children to raise but she is sewing for her own children.

You played a vital part in helping Teona get back on her feet.  Our legal team and sewing teacher have given Teona a fresh start, but it was vital that Teona could stay with us while we helped her resolve the conflict in her life.  We don't turn anyone away, whether they need a short respite stay, or to make us their home for a longer period.  We can only do this if we can feed them, so we are very grateful to you for your help.

Teona wearing one of her creations
Teona wearing one of her creations

Links:

Beso feeling well after his stitches were removed
Beso feeling well after his stitches were removed

In our last report we told you about Beso, one of our residents, who urgently needed an operation to repair his intestines.  Thanks to the generosity of the Global Giving community he has had the operation, the stitches are out and Beso is no longer in pain.  Beso is very grateful to everyone who helped him and is very happy that he can lead a normal life again.

Now I'd like to tell you about Temuri, one of our newest residents. Temuri is 16 years old from a financially unstable, large family. Unfortunately his father passed away and Temuri lives with 6 brothers and sisters and is looked after by his grandmother. They live in a 12m² basement. Temuri works as a bread baker and he is the sole breadwinner. He works from 8am to 9pm; despite the work hours he comes back home and learns school material which after a month he passes with distinction. He is learning in a village school near Tbilisi where they made an exception for him.

In May when he was coming back from work he met two acquaintances, who started to laugh at him because of his old phone. As he said: " I don't know what happened to me, I got very angry and punched both of them and took the phone from the guy who was showing of his new phone to teach him a lesson and went back home.  After a short while the police came knocking on my door and told me that if I gave the phone back I wouldn't get into trouble and so I gave the phone back.' After this the police arrested him for theft category 3.

Temuri's friends contacted us, because we knew them; he lives near our old Mkurnali house. Here our legal program came into action. We started working on this case straight away and asked the court to not arrest him. But they told us straight away that they couldn't help because the crime was very serious and it meant 5 to 9 years in prison and also there was a new order from parliament saying underage crime should be dealt with stricter because too much leniency went to their heads. Afterwards we wrote a document signed by our founder, Father George, to the judge of the court. In the document we wrote about the social instability of the boy's family and his love for hard work.

The judge recognised the authority of Father George and the court set him free with a suspended sentence for 5 years.  Thanks to your generosity helping us to buy food, this is not the end of Temuri's journey with us.  He has moved into our shelter, where he can continue working and studying while we help him overcome his problems and build a more stable life.Thank you for your part in giving Temuri a second chance.

 

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Organization Information

St Gregory's Foundation

Location: Crewe, Cheshire - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​www.stgregorysfoundation.org.uk/​
Project Leader:
Julia Ashmore
Crewe, Cheshire United Kingdom

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