Georgia is a small country in the Caucasus mountains with a unique, ancient culture and language. It has a population of around 3.7 million with just over a million of those living in the capital, Tbilisi.
St Gregory’s Foundation has worked with a Tbilisi charity, Mkurnali, since 2008 to help homeless children and teenagers. Mkurnali has to deal with the legacy of the Soviet system: children in care are still likely to end up in orphanages rather than being cared for in families, and the youth justice system is only slowly being reformed. Add to this the fact that half of Georgian families live in poverty and you can see why some teenagers end up living on the streets.
We work with the local charity “Mkurnali” (Healer) that is the only charity in Tbilisi which supports homeless teenagers and young adults and those who had trouble with the law. Mkurnali provides these troubled young people with stability and legal aid. There are no state programmes which specifically help these young people.
Last year we
- Raised money to help Mkurnali complete a loft conversion so that they can house more young people and families.
- Helped defend 42 teenagers in the court – 30 were either acquitted or given a conditional discharge.
St Gregory’s Foundation is just one organisation creating links between the Republic of Georgia and the UK. Georgian music is popular around the world because of its deeply affecting harmonies. It is even said that Georgian music can heal. Georgian food is also rightly famous.
London Georgian choir www.maspindzeli.org.uk
Cambridge Georgian choir www.georgianchoircambridge.wordpress.com
The British Georgian Society www.britishgeorgiansociety.org organises events in the UK to promote Georgian culture.
Bristol is twinned with Tbilisi, and is also a centre of Georgian activities: www.bristoltbilisi.com
Georgia is also famous for its wonderful hospitality, food and wine, which you can sample at the Little Georgia restaurant in London. If you don’ t live near a Georgian restaurant you can try its flavours out using recipes from www.georgianrecipes.net.