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Hoping for a better future

27-09-2004 Feature

Many kindergartens in the Zugdidi area of western Georgia have become temporary shelters for a group of Georgians displaced from Abkhazia. For several families living in the kindergarten in the village of Akhalkakhati, "temporary" has stretched to become more than a decade.

 

Vakhtang Soselia©ICRC/ref. IMG-0014 
 

It was 29 December 1993 when Vakhtang Soselia last saw his newly built house in the village of Repi in the Gali region of Abkhazia, where he hadn't yet lived a single day. He and his family planned to move in for the New Year but instead they had to flee. He hasn't seen the house since. He only knows that a tree has grown on its ruins.

Fleeing his home, Vakhtang Soselia stepped on a mine and was badly injured. Taken to Zugdidi hospital, he will never forget how the medical staff cared for him. However, his condition was poor and he suffered a further setback when he had a heart attack. Finally, the doctors decided that his legs could not be saved. As well as having to leave his home, he also had to get accustomed to his disability.

This is when he first became acquainted with the ICRC. Like many other mine victims he was sent to the ICRC Orthopaedic Centre in Tbilisi, where he was provided with artificial limbs. Recently he received new prostheses from the ICRC as the old ones were worn out. A wheel chair was donated by a local NGO.

The family managed to survive for many years with the help of the ICRC food programme. This year they were integrated into the Agriculture, Trade and Craf t Project. Vakhtang Soselia's family was provided with chickens, feed, building material for a hen house, gardening tools and seeds.

The programme is strictly targeted to meet the different needs of families living on the verge of destitution.

" To be honest, me and my wife would rather have had a cow, but we didn't comply with the existing criteria. Our family is big, but we have no small kids. One neighbour, who has a family of seven, got a cow because her kids are little. Another received pigs and fodder. "

The three families share a common plot and an ICRC veterinarian is available with advice on how to take care of the livestock.

Vakhtang Soselia still worries about the future. His sons are unemployed and he is anxious how he and his family can survive on the meagre state allowances.

" But honestly, I am not ungrateful, " he says " I know many others are in need too. We can only thank the ICRC and other international organisations. We are also counting on our new government. We live in hope of a better future. "