Gathering at the Community Center
The children of Tsintskaro are showing a great sense of community throughout the ages. Apart from children of all ages singing together at the community center and the sining classes at the school, the facility itself is a gathering place for them. It includes a gym, that is mostly used by the older juveniles, that are interested in sports. — They can do weight training here, apart from the regular wrestling training at the school-gym.
Moreover, the community center has its own library that is constantly growing, with the help of Taso Foundation. The kids can satisfy their curiosity and urge for knowledge here and as a result of that, learn new things, apart from the contents they learn in school.
One thing, which is interesting for all ages, are the computers. The children can use the internet here, which is a really special thing, as internet access is not common for the average households, especially in rural areas. — The kids can search for interesting things online and also find informations they need for homework and other things. — Here, the youth groups constantly write and work on community projects and applications for grants, as well.
Volunteerism in Georgia
As voluntary work is not very popular in Georgia, one of the most important aims of Taso Foundation is approaching a sense of voluntarism in the society. „If you think of Georgia, in terms of volunteerism, there is not much action that people are taking. There are some people who are always saying, that there is no volunteerism in Georgia at all, but we can share some good examples and have a huge list of young people all over Georgia, who are doing absolutely amazing work“, Nino Ugrekhelidze says. — For herself, the philanthropy (humanitarianism) is of the most important aspects, and connecting the volunteers and take actions is on of the key moments.
Therefore, Nino is the main connection between the youth in Tsintskaro and the Taso Foundation. She is currently doing PR for the organization, as well as found raising and the coordination of the youth educational programs. Moreover, she does the monitoring evaluation of the people in Tsintskaro. — „An important aspect is supporting and developing the skills of these young people in Tsintskaro, because for instance, they can present their own ideas and write project for creative fundraising“, she explains.
„The number of the volunteers is constantly changing, because some of the volunteers are becoming students and go to Tbilisi, some of them are getting married at an early age, which we are trying to prevent, but in general, most of them are going to the capital city to get education; there are only few people who are staying in Tsintskaro“, Nino explains. — This is why the voluntary work needs to be „more diverse, more interesting and more interactive.“
„Nowadays, we have 14 organizations united in the network of community foundations, which is the first time in Georgia. It’s a development of community philanthropy (humanitarianism), meaning a horizontal spreading of values, activism and support given to different communities. — So far, up to 100 villages are covered with that network.“ — Marina Tabukashvili
Youth Groups in Tsintskaro
The 24 year old Nana Stepliani, daughter of Tsiuri Devdariani, is one of the younger villagers, who are trying to work actively on community problems, as well. Because of all the work Nora, Neli and Tsiuri already did together with the women in their aid groups until that point in time, the young IDPs were motivated and felt the desire to create their own youth groups to address problems concerning their needs and issues. This is why the Taso Foundation intensively started working with youth groups of volunteers in Tsintskaro since 2011, simultaneously to the work with the women groups. — The work with the younger generation is an important field of the organization, and both groups are kind of obliged to mutually support each other.
Because of her experiences with voluntary work and the participation in many meeting of the women’s groups, Nana basically became the head of the youth groups, even though they are still monitored by Nino. „All the kids and young people are involved as volunteers“, Nana says, and one of her main aims is getting to know young people from other villages. The youth groups managed to meet them, and they shared informations to raise awareness about the circumstances in Tsintskaro. After writing a monthly newspaper in the past, a yearlong summery about the work the youth groups do, including articles and pictures, is written now. „We haven’t published it yet, because we need a color printer so the published pictures will turn out well“, Nana explains, so one of the main focuses of the youth group is receiving a grant for that device.
Self-contribution is an important aspect, and more important for the youth in Tsintskaro, as someone just giving them directions. By enabling contributive participation, the young people of the village realize, that they have an important role in the society. An example that Nino Ugrekhelidze mentions for that, is the renovation of a building in Tsintskaro. Here, the members of the youth groups were the ones who were painting the walls, and choosing the colors; they were the ones to decide about the placement of furniture and especially this appreciation makes the children take even more care of their achievements and reinforces the voluntaristic spirit. — Because of all the previous voluntary work Nana did, she was supposed to monitoring the projects that were given grants.
Nana: about her work with Taso Foundation.
An important resource for the communication between the organization and the young volunteers in the village, is the internet and especially social media platforms, as regularly meetings with the representatives are quiet difficult, based on the distance between Tsintskaro and Tbilisi. Through social media, Taso Foundation is sharing new opportunities and new ideas with the youth. For example, there are many questionaries that the juveniles can fill out, to find out about which profession fits to them, or which professions are needed in the country right now. Moreover, they can find out about which grants the government is giving, or if there are affordable or even non-contributory studying opportunities. — „We are not giving directions, we are just showing the opportunities, and then it is up to the juveniles to decide. We give them the chance to look at the options, and seeing the options they have is important. Sometimes there are opportunities exactly for them, but they don’t know that they exist, so it’s a really important for us to make a connection between them and the existing resources. There are even some grants, programs and scholarships which they can apply to, and are free of charge“, Nino outlines.
Taso Foundation offers annually summer camps for people from youth groups from all different kinds of sight in Georgia, that they are working with, as well. Unfortunately, not all the members of the youth groups can be invited to these camps, which is why sharing knowledge is another key moment of their self-development. — Taso Foundation is telling the attending members of the summer camps to listen to the things they are teaching them, and when they go back to they villages and cities, they have to share the things they learned.
For the younger children of the community, there is a Kindergarten, just down the road from the community center. Here, children from early age until primary school age are taken care of during daytime, while the parents have to work.
The kindergarten mainly consists in a two-story building; the ground-floor accommodates spaces for the toddlers, like a play area with toys, that were also financed through grants. The upper floor accommodated spaces for older children. These are play areas and recreation rooms, but also a dining area; the restrooms are located outside of the building, like it typically is in Georgia. — The outside area of the Kindergarten has a little playground with swings and outdoor-play-equipment, that were (together with books and other toys) financed through one of many grants, achieved through the efforts of the aid-groups; the about of money was 4000 Lari (about 1550€/1740$).
Children, parents, other relatives, and the kindergarteners.
All in all, the facility itself (as well as the equipment) is very tenuous; the building is porous, the internal spaces are small and especially more toys are needed for the children. — Nevertheless, the Kindergarten teachers are trying to make the best of it and together with the children they decorated the walls and hung up pictures and handicraft work, to make the facility more child-friendly and the most important thing is, that the children appeared friendly as well, as the kindergarten teachers are really loving and caring. — Again, this shows the unity of the villagers. As it is a small village, everyone knows each other and the children are not only regular kindergarteners, but also children of the teachers friends and sometimes even family members, like own children or nephews and nieces. — Madona Chkhvimiani, the wife of the wrestling trainer Murad Gurchiani is a kindergarten teacher in this facility, as well; most of the kids are Azerbaijani.
Just in 2016, due to the lack os space, a second small building with a size of about 60qm was build. Every child needs a certain amount of leeways to be able to develop freely, and by enlarging the facilities, a new location to play and even to celebrate community events was founded.
Inside and outside of the kindergarten.
by Nina Brinkmann, Karim Happel and Mariam Meparishvili