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German help for Kakhetian orphanage to continue

Contributed article
Monday, February 11
There are 70 to 80 girls and boys living in an orphanage near the village of Zemo Bodbe in Kakheti, most of them with mental disorders.

“This home is the only one of its kind in Kakheti,” says director Temur Balarjishvili, “And really urgently needed.”

All five of the institution’s buildings, founded in 1960, are totally run-down and their poor condition extends to the bad equipment inside. The low budget barely covers day-to-day needs.

For two years Dr. Hans Lier, a retired German teacher, has tried to bring relief to the lamentable situation. Supported by the German relief organization HELFT UNS LEBEN (HUL, “Help Us to Live), Lier started out by fixing the worst damages to the buildings and facilities.

Lier says he is grateful to Lucy Ptskialadze, an employee of the GTZ (Gesellschaft fur technische Zusammenarbeit) in Tbilisi, who spends much of her free time monitoring the project.

A new bathroom with five showers has been installed and tiled, as well as a dressing room. An old washhouse with its rotten machines has been replaced by a new one and two new washing machines were bought. All bedrooms and common rooms in the childrens’ boarding house were in critical condition. Last summer four of them were completely renovated, and some of the most endangered parts of the outer wall have been repaired and plastered.

“It came just in time for Christmas that I got further financial aid from HUL,” says Lier happily, as Ptskialadze breathes a sigh of relief. “I am glad to inform Temur that we now have the means to renovate more bedrooms.”

Both have many more plans for the future. The next action on the agenda is providing boys’ and girls’ bathrooms and washrooms. The few existing toilets and washbasins are mostly damaged and in poor condition.

“Unfortunately most of the money has to be spent on keeping up the buildings and less for the children themselves,” Lier says. “However, with private donations we could buy some sports equipment and educational toys and games.”

Ptskialadze adds, “At least once we could do something nice for the kids, giving each a bag of fruits and sweets.”

Above all the children need education and psychological care.

They suffer from boredom and a lack of self-esteem. Lier already has some measures in mind, such as artists working with children and forms of “inclusive” education together with children from the nearby primary school.