Summer newsletter – out now

Image of front page of newsletter PDF

Our newsletter is out now with stories from Moscow, St Petersburg, Kondopoga and Tbilisi. To celebrate our 30th anniversary we look back and appreciate how far we’ve come. We take stock of the extraordinary present day and look ahead to future plans. Dive in, and join our efforts to create a brighter future for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our regions.

Life at Mkurnali’s homeless shelter – Tbilisi

Planting potatoes at Mkurnali

The pandemic noticeably worsened the working conditions in Georgia, as it did in the whole world. The majority of companies started working from home and now they don’t use many printers – we lost a lot of orders for fixing or changing cartridges. Our other small business – a car repair shop – continues to work, but only with a limited capacity: the prices of fuel have drastically increased and there-fore people are driving less. Many young people lost their jobs. Regular work remained only for those who worked at grocery stores and supermarkets and perhaps as street cleaners.

Continue reading Life at Mkurnali’s homeless shelter – Tbilisi

Acquitted for New Year

Tbilisi courthouse

In 2020 Mkurnali defended 37 cases.  Twelve of these young people, who faced probable conviction were found completely innocent thanks to our lawyer’s intervention.  Twelve received a suspended sentence, and the others were all given much-reduced sentences.  We have the story of one of these cases for you today. 

Mamuka has served a sentence for theft before, but since his release he has changed dramatically.  He has married, had a child, trained as a heating installer and worked very hard.  One day, when he was shopping at his usual grocery store he was arrested again for theft.  Had Mkurnli not been able to confirm his alibi, he would now be facing four years in prison for something he did not do.

Continue reading Acquitted for New Year

Reports from our virtual AGM

St Gregory’s first ever virtual AGM was held on Tuesday 1st December. It was good to see members join us from round the UK, an advantage of being online. It was fantastic to be joined by Anastasia Ryazanova, director of Communication Space, our partner organisation in Moscow that works with young people on the autistic spectrum and others with communication difficulties. She was able to give us a real flavour of the wonderful work they are doing to introduce Alternative and Augmentative Communication methods to Russia.

If you missed our meeting, you may be interested to read our Executive Secretary, Julia Ashmore’s, presentation. She gives a good round up of what we have achieved this year, and where we are heading. Do feel free to get in touch with any questions.

Pandemic leads to arrest of innocent man

It all started when Demetre’s pregnant wife got toothache one evening during the Covid curfew (from 9pm to 6am at the time). They rang the doctor and discovered that she needed a painkiller that they didn’t have at home. Demetre popped out to the pharmacy.

On his way home, Demetre saw police. He hid between two parked cars. The owner was on a nearby balcony, thought Demetre was trying to rob his car and started shouting. Demetre panicked and ran away. The police caught him and tried to arrest him.

Continue reading Pandemic leads to arrest of innocent man

Suicidal young man finds haven at Mkurnali

New resident with Jamal, who helps run the shelter.St Gregory’s has a long-standing partnership with Mkurnali, a charity that helps homeless young people in Tbilisi, Georgia.   Nino Chubabria, Mkurnali’s director tells a story of an extraordinary coincidence which allowed the charity to save a young man.

“Not long ago, one of our residents saw a news report about a lad who tried to commit suicide.  He had lost his job, and with no income, he had also been evicted.  Vano recognised the young man because they grew up together in an orphanage, and he asked me to help him.  When I watched the story, I also recognised the young man.  He had been arrested about ten years ago for stealing toy binoculars.  He was then a child living on the streets of Batumi and Tbilisi, and he survived by begging and stealing.

We got involved and saved him from prison on condition that we took responsibility for him.  He came and lived in our shelter for two years.  After that he started working and living independently, until he lost his job because of Corona virus.  After seeing the story, Jemal found him and brought him back.  He now lives at our shelter again, and will stay here until he can start work again.”

Justice for one Tbilisi family

In normal times, one of our major programmes provides justice for homeless and vulnerable young people in Tbilisi, Georgia.  During the Corona virus crisis, our lawyer is working from home and the court system is seriously disrupted.  Here is a reminder of one of our successful cases.

When we got involved, Vladimir had been arrested and charged with Deliberate Bodily Harm and was facing up to eight years in prison.   The case file showed that Vaska had been visiting Vladimir, they quarrelled and Vladimir inflicted severe bodily harm on him.

In fact, the situation was different Continue reading Justice for one Tbilisi family

Improving lives and neighbourhoods

ParkhWe love a win win solution and that is what SGF partner organization, Mkurnali was able to create recently in their own neighbourhood.   Rather than choosing between a troubled teenager and the community he was disrupting, Mkurnali has been able to improve life for everyone.

Parkhat is a neighbour of Mkurnali’s.  He came from an Azerbaidzhani family who settled in Tbilisi.  He is 15 and a half years old and has been growing up without his mother.  She left him and his father and went off with another man after finding that her husband had cancer. Parkhat’s father is a good, hardworking and honest man and it is terribly sad that he is ill and does not have anyone to help him. He is unable to look after Parkhat whose behaviour became much worse after his mother left them.  Continue reading Improving lives and neighbourhoods

Our winter newsletter

Front page of the SGF newsletter Our winter newsletter is out now with more in depth stories of the people that we are able to help thanks to our wonderful, generous supporters.

Find out

  • how Sunflower helped Natasha adjust to life after the children’s home,
  • how Mkurnali are supporting Luka’s family so he doesn’t have to put himself at risk working on the streets,
  • and how Elya is overcoming disability to feed herself for the first time aged 19, and more.

A new start for a homeless family in Georgia

Earlier this year Artur and Christine and their four children, long-term residents at the homeless shelter we support in Tbilisi, were  able to buy a small shack in a village near Tbilisi.  It doesn’t look like much, but this shack offers a great opportunity for the family to live independently at last, particularly since it comes with land so they can grow food.

Artur and Christine are trying to bring the shack into shape as a house and have already done a lot of work on it. Now they need to have basic living conditions to move in. Each month they pay towards the cost of the house, but that leaves them with nothing to furnish it.  Our assistant, Jemal, posted their story on social media and had a fantastic response. One kind woman gave them money, so that they could buy a water pump to put in their yard. (The water pressure brought to their house is so weak, they would have not have proper water otherwise.) Other people donated furniture, household items and even doors and window.  Jemal asked our neighbour, who owns a truck, if he could help us move these items to the village. The neighbour agreed to help and only took the money for petrol.

Christine and Artur now have beds, cupboards, chairs, duvet covers, mattresses, clothes, books and toys for the kids. The whole family is so happy. Now they just have to build on another room and then they will at last be able to move in and live as an independent family for the first time in their lives.