May newsletter out now

Our May newsletter is out now, including a round up of our news from Moldova, Georgia and Russia. You will see how your donations are being used to support Luisa, who found herself homeless in Tbilisi, and Vika in St Petersburg, whose mother died. We report on our colleagues who are teaching others how to adapt books for people with a range of disabilities, and providing the only therapy available for children with special needs in Călărași, Moldova.

An urgent problem we have this year is helping Sunflower recover from a fire at their summer camp base. This was caused last year by a fault at a local substation. Sunflower have managed to get the lights back on, and have also fundraised locally to replace damaged kitchen equipment. What they now need help with is transport both for their new equipment and for their volunteers, and food to sustain the volunteers as they make the site ready for this year’s camp.

Check out our appeal page if you would like to help.

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.

Continue reading News from Mkurnali’s shelter

Mkurnali wins vital healthcare for a former resident

This crumpled mess was all that was left of the car Eka was travelling in, when it was hit by a trailer moving on the opposite side of the road. The car overturned and fell off the side of the road. The other driver, thinking that everyone in it was dead, fled the scene. Eka was a former resident at Mkurnali‘s homeless shelter in Tbilisi, Georgia. Without Mkurnali’s legal help, she would never have won the compensation she so desperately needed to pay for her healthcare after the accident.

Continue reading Mkurnali wins vital healthcare for a former resident

Memorial Tea and Nino’s visit

In recent years, coffee mornings in Ruislip organised by the late George and Shirley Guest, have raised thousands of pounds for Mkurnali to help with the rehabilitation and employment of homeless teenagers and young offenders in Tbilisi. Trips to Georgia organised by George inspired many people to support Mkurnali even more. This helped refurbish and equip Mkurnali’s house.

In memory of these two remarkable supporters, a group of volunteers: Liz Parry, Cicely Draper and St Gregory’s Director, Vivian Wright organised the Memorial Tea for George and Shirley on 15th October in Ruislip. The event was a great success and reunited more than 75 people, including George and Shirley’s daughter Rebecca, and Sam their grandson. A very special guest, Nino Chubabria, Director of Mkurnali came from Tbilisi to pay tribute to George and Shirley on behalf of Mkurnali’s young people.
Continue reading Memorial Tea and Nino’s visit

Mkurnali finds Dima – twice

Dima (right) with Jemal, support worker from Mkurnali

Our partner charity, Mkurnali found Dima on Tik Tok. A video journalist had filmed him living on the streets in Tbilisi. Our colleagues somehow recongised him you’d hardly believe he is only 29, found him and brought him back to the Mkurnali shelter.

Read more: Mkurnali finds Dima – twice

This was not the first time Mkurnali had been there for Dima. In 2004 Mkurnali had found Dima living on the streets with his brother, Alex. They were 9 and 11 years old and had already been on the streets for two years since they were orphaned. Their relatives had appropriated their flat, and they had run away because of the beatings they were given at home by their uncle.

Read more: Mkurnali finds Dima – twice

After a long legal battle, Mkurnali managed to return the flat to them. Once grown up, the brothers moved back in and lost touch with Mkurnali.

Dima was working as a shepherd, living away from Tbilisi for weeks at a time. When Alex stopped answering Dima’s calls, Dima went back to the city to find out what had happened. When he got to the flat the door was locked and bolted. The police were called and broke down the door, to find Alex dead.

After his brother’s funeral, Dima sold the flat and bought cattle and a small house in the countryside. He took up farming. All was going well until the uncle’s son appeared. He forced Dima to sign a deed gifting the house to his cousin and then threw him out on the street. At first Dima was sheltered by a monastery. However, after an emergency stay in hospital, he started sleeping rough.

Dima is now living at Mkurnali and is readjusting to life. Looking forward, he will train in Mkurnali’s enamel workshop and they will return his house to him.

Fedya’s became a homeless orphan aged 6

St Gregory’s Foundation works with a remarkable charity, called Mkurnali, in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. Mkurnali provides sheleter, vocational training and employment, and a legal service to homeless young people in their city.

Nino, Mkurnali’s director, met Fedya and his brother Artur in 2002. They were sleeping near Dighomi market along with other “street children”.  He was always cheerful and friendly despite all the difficulties. After the death of his father, Fedya, his mother and brother were thrown out of the house by their uncle and had no other place to go. They had to live on the street and sleep in cellars or wherever they could find a shelter. 

Continue reading Fedya’s became a homeless orphan aged 6

George and Shirley Guest – RIP

We are very sorry to announce that George Guest and his wife, Shirley, for many, many years a mainstay of St Gregory’s Foundation, have both died earlier this month. Before she died, his wife, Shirley, suggested that those who would like to remember George give a donation to the Foundation in his memory.

Continue reading George and Shirley Guest – RIP

A warm home for homeless families in Tbilisi – our Christmas appeal

This year our Christmas appeal is on behalf of our partner charity, Mkurnali. Global events have led to significant rent rises in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. Mkurnali are on the front line, providing accommodation to families and young people who would otherwise have nowhere to go.

Grigol’s* family are one of two new families at Mkurnali’s shelter. In 2020 we reported how he was taken in by Mkurnali after he lost his job and attempted suicide. He had since moved out, found work and married. Now a new baby and rent rises mean that he can no longer provide for his family.

The charity have created a loft extension so they can offer more housing. They have more renovations to complete and a bathroom to install before they are able to welcome two more families from their waiting list. We know that this is a difficult year for many, but if you can spare a little, together we can help them house more desperate families.

*Not his real name

Medical care for Mkurnali resident

One of Mkurnali’s residents, Dato, has also developed serious health problems. He was diagnosed with a severe stage of polyarthritis and his walking and sight have greatly diminished. Sadly the treatment he received has not yet been effective. He now needs a medicine that costs 5,000 GEL (£1,228) per dose. It turns out that Dato will need 4 doses a year. In spite of Dato’s current second degree disability, such medicines are not provided by state funding.

Mkurnali’s director, Nino, and her helpers have tried to earn this amount but this has proved difficult in the current climate. Nino told us: “I turned to my friend, Dr Marina Ramazashvili, who has her own eye clinic and who has helped with free treatment for some Mkurnali’s beneficiaries in the past. Marina ran a free check and confirmed that arthritis caused Dato’s sight deterioration. Thankfully she connected us with another clinic in Tbilisi where the required medicine and treatment will become available in two month’s time with support from Germany. Amazingly this local clinic led by Ms Darejan Shelia will match Marina’s free offer for Mkurnali and serve our beneficiaries free of charge if there are cases of cardiac problems”.