News from Mkurnali’s shelter

We are very much looking forward to meeting Mkurnali’s residents during the supporters’ trip to Tbilisi this summer. We will meet some longstanding members of the commuity, like Jemal (once a beneficiary and now Nino’s right hand man). We will also meet some new residents, like Luisa, whose story we tell today.

Luisa is an Azerbaijani Kurd and she came to Georgia with her mother and her brothers and sisters when she was a child. The family earned their living by begging and petty theft, but Luisa ran away. She appealed for help so she could study and lead a normal life. First she lived in an orphanage and then in foster care in a town some 200km from Tbilisi.

From there, Luisa’s life took several twists and turns before she ended up at Mkurnali. Aged 17, she travelled to Tbilisi hoping to take up promised work as a model. When this didn’t materialise, she ended up living on the streets. The authorities took her to live at another charity’s shelter, where she met a boy and fell in love. He was also an Azerbaijani Kurd.

Luisa went to live with his family and became pregnant. Sadly, the family mistreated her, partly because she is a Christian and wouldn’t change her faith at their demand. She couldn’t afford to see a gynaecologist. When life became unbearable, she turned again to the charity who had housed her before, and their mother and baby shelter. They arranged pregnancy care for her, but tragically, the baby was very underdeveloped and it was clear that it would not survive.

Unable to return to the mother and baby shelter without a baby, Luisa faced a return to the streets. Fortunately, Luisa is good at asking for help. She contacted the orphanage she had lived in, and they put her in touch with Mkurnali. She was able to go straight from the hospital to Mkurnali, where she was given a warm welcome by the other residents. Now she has a chance to start building a more stable future.

Luisa’s chaotic and traumatic past is not unusual among Mkurnali’s residents. So, it is not surprising that the children living there need extra help with their school work.

Nino has been helping Christina and Cecily learn their times tables and their grammar. Jamal and Lyuba have also attended some parenting classes run by a friend of Nino’s so they can learn new ways to support their children. They found it very helpful.