“La Casa della Nonna” (grandma’s house), a new Home to the IDP Children of Shavshvebi

After the war in Georgia (2008), the Camillians intervened by providing a home for the internally displaced people – children (IDPs) in Shavshvebi, Gori, Georgia through the care of Fr. Pawel Dyl, a Polish Camillian missionary. The Shavshvebi village is located near the so-called border strip, which was formed in 2008 after the war between Russia and Georgia. This project was initiated by a pious Catholic union called the Merciful Jesus and was continued by the Camillians. It is designed for school-age children displaced by the South Ossetia war. A team of professionals such as a psychologist, a visual artist, a music teacher and a designer-animator carries out this project.

The team meets the students three times a week for eight hours. Fifty children are presently enrolled in the program. They are divided into two groups: a) from 6 to 10 years old and b) from 10 to 17. The first group spent time reading texts, stories and Christian parables. Then, they shared what they understood from the texts by highlighting the qualities of the person/s in the stories that they admired most. They are taught how to draw and visualize their present situation and feelings. These activities facilitate understanding the psycho-emotional and spiritual status of the children especially those who need personal accompaniment.

The second group study history and geography of Georgia. They are taught to read maps and appreciate Christian arts and history. For instance, they are introduced to medieval monuments of Georgia imbued with Christian spirit such as the frescoes in the churches that depict events in the bible such as the Passion of Christ.

They study music and learn folksongs, and contemporary music. They are taught on how to play the piano and guitar.

Aside from music, they study puppetry as well as make puppets for sale particularly among the teen-agers. Every Christmas, they display their products at Otel Metekhi market. The proceeds of the sale are used to buy gifts for the least fortunate children and for their personal necessities. This activity taught them to be self-reliant financial in the future.

Sports and recreations are part of their daily important routine. They play football, table tennis, badminton and board games. These activities contribute to the development of their mental abilities.

The condition of these children who succumbed to war and violence in the past has radically changed. They overcome gradually their disturbances and difficulties in adapting to a new environment, communication with the local settlers, and their fears of aggression.

Most of the children who had completed the program of the Casa della Nonna went to the university while some opted to raise their own families and children.

To make this “home” more self-reliant and financially autonomous, a new project is being started at the center, which is a construction of a fully equipped pottery workshop sponsored by the Japanese and Polish embassies.

By Pawel Dyl, MI
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