Memories about Caritas Georgia
Charitable Foundation Caritas Georgia takes its first steps in 1992. It was a period of great difficulties in Georgia: there was an armed conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia, and in Tbilisi was no electricity, heating, and no hot water. People were standing in the queues for bread and kerosene since 3 at night. Right in that moment, looking at the situation, we (several citizens of Tbilisi) started to think how to help the most vulnerable, lonely people, to large families with children, handicapped persons, and other fellows. Thus, a group of volunteers was created, and started to individuate and visit lonely elderly and vulnerable families. After every meeting, we were going out in tears, thinking how to help them. At that period, in my house were 12 IDP’s from Abkhazia – my relatives, and my bedridden husband. When my son was coming back from the university he never looked towards the kitchen, because he knew how difficult was to give food to so many people.
Once, in 1993 after the Holy Mass at Saint Peter and Paul Catholic church in Tbilisi, I was offered to become a member of a new organization founded in Georgia. It was Caritas. The first director of Caritas Georgia – Mr. Guram Dzodzuashvili and me started to think about and implement first projects of the organization.
After the opening of the Holy See Embassy in Tbilisi, and arrival of first Nuncio Mons. Jean Paul Gobel and his assistant Father Witold Szulczynski, Caritas Georgia was registered officially on November 3 of 1994. Afterwards, with their motivation and passion, we started to implement humanitarian projects: distribution of food items and clothes, later we opened humanitarian soup-kitchens, started provision of hot meal for Kaspi and Kodjori orphanages, organized summer camps for children in need in Bakuriani, despite their religion. In 1995, with the support of Sisters of Mother Teresa and qualified doctors and nurses, health center was opened in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and in the villages of Samtskhe-Javakheti. Moreover, the project Home Care started in Tbilisi, as well as in West Georgia (Kutaisi and Ozurgeti), which gave us an opportunity to take care to the elderly bedridden patients. After that we have opened Youth Day Care Centers in Tbilisi and in Kutaisi. Bit by bit Caritas became strong and we started to implement bigger projects.
In 1997-1999 we have built the shelter for homeless on a plot of land donated by the City Hall of Tbilisi. The shelter was blessed by John Paul II (during the visit of His Holiness to Georgia in 1999). It also was partially financed by His Holiness.
From time to time, we have established good relationship with Georgian Government and they were often addressing us for help. For example, after the draught of 1999-2000 in Samtskhe-Javakheti region Caritas fulfilled huge humanitarian project for the local population affected by draught. After Tbilisi earthquake in 2002, Caritas Georgia fulfilled rehabilitation works for several schools and kindergartens. Step by step, we started also development projects in the regions affected by heavy snow, floods and hailstorms. Our main goal was to improve the infrastructure and living conditions of local population.
Later on, thanks to the thoroughness of Mons. Giuseppe Pasotto, Father Gabriele Bragantini and Suor Loredana Monetti, the shelter for homeless was built in Batumi and later the “House of Hope” opened its doors for vulnerable persons, who have had alcoholic problems. In Tbilisi was opened “Harmony” – Day Care Center for lonely elderly.
In 2003 we started huge project of water supply for 22 villages in Samtskhe-Javakheti region.
During the armed conflict of 2008 Caritas Georgia was actively involved in humanitarian aid in the region of Samachablo and Gori district. Since the first days of armed conflict, Caritas was in service for the IDP’s trying to bring relief where it was possible. After the armed conflict Caritas Georgia renovated two kindergartens in Gori region and built and completely furnished a new kindergarten in Tsmindatskali district. Besides this Caritas provided medical and humanitarian aid to IDP’s and vulnerable population.
I would like to underline great input of Father Witold Szulczynski – director of Caritas Georgia for the development and growth of our organization, as well as the efforts of the Apostolic Nuncios – H. E. Mons. Jean Paul Gobel, H. E. Mons. Peter Stephan Zurbriggen and H. E. Mons. Claudio Gugerotti. Moreover, I would like to remember all the organizations who supported us from the very beginning and during the active phase of our charitable work in Georgia. Thanks to all of them we had a precious possibility to support vulnerable population of Georgia.
At the end, I would like to express my feelings towards Caritas Georgia. For me Caritas is my home, my family. Caritas is support, love, and care for vulnerable people, child, elderly or homeless, regarding their religion or nationality.
Nazi Kvarchia – Deputy Director, during 15 years, since establishment of the organization. Since 2012 – Administrative Coordinator of Caritas Georgia.