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Mixed feelings, restored hope and fear of the future

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Tuesday, May 13
Erisimedi is a village located at the border of Georgia and Azerbaijan and belongs to the Sighnaghi municipality. Located on the right bank of the Alazani River, it is 65 kilometers away from Sighnaghi’s regional center. The village was built in 1989 and is mainly inhabited by eco- migrant population from the Adjara region.

Approximately 80 families live in Erisimedi. Among the residents, besides migrants are a few locals and about 10 families of Kists, who some years ago moved from the Pankisi Gorge.

Although the village belongs to the Georgian side, no one can enter it without being checked by border-guards. Border control in Erisimedi was tightened in April of 2010. The reason for that was due to the behavior of Azerbaijani border-guards. On April 13 of 2010, 16 year-old Ahmed Gaurgashvili was killed while he was pasturing cattle from the field.

However, people have stayed positive and keep hope for the future in their hearts.

“Mother nature forced us to move from our own place to this one. The landslide left us no choice, but we are still happy and grateful that we are in Georgia by the side of Georgians,” stressed one of the residents of the village.

Residents of village had huge problems for years. Their requests were finally heard in 2013 and 230,000 Gel was apportioned to solve the problems in the village. The money was used to provide drinking water and to improve the infrastructure.

“The road has been graveled, if before we needed about 3 hours to reach the center, now an hour and a half is enough… if it will be graveled again, we’ll need only an hour. The school has also been renovated. We have a doctor and nurse 3 times a week visiting. Our water problems have been solved, and we are really very grateful,” stated one of the residents of Erisimedi.

However, people still are affected by floods which are caused by the nearby Okhakhi River and the barbed-wire fence.

“We are not allowed to get near the fence at a distance of 20 meters. The problem is that cattle sometimes go through it and we cannot pasture them back. Some days, the guards give them back to us, but mostly we are just losing them,” stated another resident of Erisimedi.

Erisimedi is special in one way. In this village you can see a church and mosque side-by-side. When asked if there are any problems because of this? The answer was: “Only the faithless man is danger. A person who believes in god cannot be hazardous, we all live here in peace and nothing will change us!”