New approach to Charity in Adjara
By the decision of Adjara’s authorities numerous homeless people, including the elderly, single mothers, and ill people were forced to leave the only charity house in the region.The Batumi Charity House had been managed by the charitable fund of St. Francesca and St. Nino since 1995, when it was granted to the fund by a decree of the ruler of Adjara at the time. In 2006 the new government of Adjara refused to recognize the validity of the 1995 decree and forced its residents to leave, after which the new owners (whose identity is unknown) demolished the building.
Although we take no issue with the legality of the decision by the Adjaran government, we believe that the Batumi Charity House’s activities were of the utmost value to the community, and we think that some provision should have been made to allow their charitable work to continue. The Charity House was initially promised a new location by the Adjaran Ministry of Economy, but this promise was never fulfilled.
The manager of the house, Svetlana Kudba, is ethnically Abkhaz, and had been giving Abkhaz language lessons in the house, in addition to her charity work. Twenty five people were participating in lessons in Abkhaz at the time that the house was closed. Besides the Abkhaz language school, there was also a free meals in its cafeteria, and shelter for single mothers and orphans. “We really do not know where to go or what to eat,” says Ingla Bliadze, a single mother of an infant, who is one of those affected by the decision of Adjara’s authorities. “We mostly exist through the charity and the help of international organizations, but due to the fact that we have no building anymore we will be losing their help,” said Kudba.
Kudba even wrote an open letter to President Saakashvili in March of 2010 which was published in the newspaper 24 Hours. What follows is an excerpt of the letter, to which Kudba never received a response.
“Mr. President, I would like to report that Charity House located in Batumi at Zviad Gamsakhurdia St. #42 has been functioning since 1995. It provides free meals in its cafeteria designated for 100 people. Charity House also includes a shelter for mothers and children, and a sports and recreation center for deviant youth. At Batumi Charity House, 100 persons living under the poverty line and those with personal disabilities are fed on a daily basis. Moreover, the foundation has been cooperating with law-enforcement authorities and orphanages since its establishment with the aim of finding parents for young orphans and helping underage individuals to return to their homes. The journal of the foundation contains a list of some 35 facts and personal stories about young adults who were returned to their homes, not only from Georgia, but also from abroad; as you know, Batumi is a port city and it hosts people (both guests and permanent residents) from diverse ethnic backgrounds. There are a number of documentary records showing how many people was supported by the foundation. Charity House, which has been in Old Batumi since 1995, is a symbol of the care and respect of Batumi citizens for people in need. Mr. President, we would like to kindly ask you not to digress from your initially declared principles of social cohesion and not to let the closure of Batumi Charity House supporting the poor and homeless, on a solo basis of a façade reconstruction.”
We think that the government should consider the broader implications of its actions here. In this case, the mission and activities of the Batumi Charity House were essential for local vulnerable groups. We do not dispute the legality of the government’s actions, but we call upon the Adjaran authorities to recognize the value of the Batumi Charity House to the Batumi, Adjaran, and Georgian communities by making arrangements that will allow the house to continue its support for the vulnerable and disadvantaged in Batumi.