Georgia: building a future out of timber, with help from the ICRC
Three years after the August 2008 conflict, people living along the administrative boundary lines are struggling to make ends meet. The ICRC has responded with “micro-economic initiatives” (MEIs). These are flexible projects in which participants choose ways of generating an income that fit in with their existing knowledge and skills. Murtaz Skhirtladze is one of those who are getting back on their feet thanks to these projects.
When Murtaz Skhirtladze and his four friends learned about the ICRC micro-economic initiative programme they decided to capitalize on their experience of working with timber, and submit a project. To their surprise, the project was approved and they received a grant. "The ICRC was the only organization that offered something concrete and kept their promise,” said Murtaz.
They took a five-day course in business management skills, bought timber and a special saw and have now been in business for two years. Despite working hard, they only earn just enough to cover the basic needs of their families.
As one walks around the village, evidence of their skill is everywhere, in the form of new wooden fences.
“We share responsibilities and we know what we’re doing, but the profit margin is small,” says participant Roin Mchedlidze. “But what can we do? As the Georgian proverb says, you have to stretch your feet to the length of your blankets!”