Diana Bakradze, 19, is a student from Telavi, Georgia. She has been participating in the state programme for trust fostering for 11 years.
Trust fostering ensures minors are brought up in a family environment until they turn 18. As Diana tells us, one day she was contacted by a social worker who suggested that she participate in a project run by the Charity Humanitarian Centre Abkhazia.
“I enrolled in this project when I was 17,” she recalls. “My social worker told me that there was an organisation implementing an interesting project that helped children develop communication skills, or other skills they need. I agreed, as at that time I was not a very communicative person and it seemed that I needed something more to find direction in life. My expectations were met – after participating in the project, I felt that I was becoming more empowered, was developing confidence and communicated with people easily.”
For 28 months, the project Diana talks about has been implemented by the Charity Humanitarian Centre Abkhazia with financial support from the EU. The pilot project – “Support of vulnerable youth to become productive citizens through learning, training and employment” – covered three regions: Kakheti, Shida Kartli, Mtskheta-Mtianeti and Tbilisi. In this time, 144 young people aged 14-25 and involved in the state foster care programme have participated in the activities planned by the organisation.
Speaking about the importance of the project, Sophiko Lagvilava, the organisation’s communications manager, mentions: “Children under state care, involved in small family homes and trust fostering programmes, fall out of state care when they turn 18. The state stops caring for them. Therefore, it is necessary that in this period [before turning 18] the minors develop all the skills that will support them in their independent life from the age of 18. All the activities, training and internships that we implemented in the project served this purpose. Young people had difficulty communicating, talking and participating in dialogue, expressing their own opinion or disagreement, making acquaintances; but they changed, their self-confidence increased, they made new friends, became more active and improved the quality of their approach to development.”
After the training and internship she undertook in the framework of the project, Diana started working for a private company, where she has now been working for a year. “We had various trainings in this project, in communication, skills development, handiwork. Then we had the opportunity of the internship. I chose an internship in a cheese factory, where my responsibility was to pre-pack cheese and prepare orders for shops in Tbilisi. Later, I was employed in the same factory for one year. This project provided me with the foundations to engage in society, to develop an interest in various activities and to be proactive, rather than waiting for somebody to come and offer something.”
Anna Varamashvili, 19, is a participant in the same project. She is also a student and studies Georgian philology and phycology at Ilia State University, in the Department of Science and Art. Anna enrolled in the project in spring 2018 with the support of her social worker. Since her childhood, her dream was to be a teacher, so she participated in activities and training in this area through the project.
“The most important thing I received from this project was that I was granted the opportunity to undertake an internship as an editor. I’ve been editing various works – stories, novels. Moreover, in the framework of the project I did an internship with a Georgian language and literature specialist to study the methods used by teachers. I’ve been processing material intended for prospective university applicants not as a student, but as a tutor. I’ve been learning how to present information in the right way. All this has helped me to increase my theoretical and practical knowledge and develop critical reasoning. This project has had a big impact on my practical and professional development, as the acquired skills will help me greatly in my future work,” Anna tells us.
As well as talking about the practical knowledge she obtained, Anna shares with us the importance of her social skills training. This enabled her to gain a better understanding and deeper insight into the mindsets of her peers, to communicate and explain their – and her own – behaviour. Today, this helps her to make healthy relationships: “We understood how necessary it is for each teenager to communicate actively and interact with society, with familiar people and with strangers; to understand what impact our engagement has, what the positive and negative sides are,” she explains. “This project has helped lots of teenagers, including me, to discover ourselves and our goals and to look after our own development independently.”
Speaking about the results of the project, the centre’s communications manager Sophiko mentions that one of its most important results has been the subsequent employment of the participants: “Teenagers who lacked social skills, did not know what they wanted to do or even what they did well, and hence had low chances of employment – these teenagers are employed today,” she says. “They have a stable monthly income; they learn how to allocate their salary according to their own needs. It should also be mentioned that they have friendship circles, including their employer and colleagues. The teenagers are actively engaged in society; they make mistakes in the process but learn how to accept criticism and correct their behaviour. Now, these teenagers can distinguish between right and wrong, [and] observe [what they see in] society and families on a daily basis.”
Author: Tamar Kuratishvili
Article published in Georgian by Newpress.ge