These are little 5-year-old Salome’s words, whose biggest dream is to see her elder sister Mariam healthy! Mari has epilepsy and cerebral palsy, and she still needs diapers at the age of 8.
Poverty has become a permanent condition of the Khubashvili family. Despite the efforts of the adult members of the family, four little girls are starving there. From a very young age, they have known what hunger and poverty are, and three of them feel their sister's pain as their own.
In the shack, called home by its inhabitants, two more "kids” live: 23-year-old mentally retarded Gocha and grandfather Merab, who has a severe sclerosis.
The family of nine persons, where four are little children live in a remote settlement outside of Tbilisi. There are no buses here. To reach the shack you have to walk uphill for about two kilometers. Finding this “house” was quite a challenge, so young mother Anna came out to meet me.
On our way she told me about all the family members: Anna, herself (26-year-old), her husband Vladimir (30-year-old), mother-in-law Marina (52-year-old), father-in-law Merab (56-year-old), who got concussion in the Abkhazian war, brother-in-law Gocha (23-year-old) and four daughters, Nino (10-year-old), Mariam (8-year-old), Anastasia (6-year-old)
and Salome (5-year-old). All of them are somehow fitting in a small two-room building.
When it entered, the house became crowded. Three little beauties, who were running in the yard, looked at me with surprise, then hided in the bedroom. Gocha and Marina met us at the door. Marina’s eyes were full of warmth, so I could not to take my eyes off her. And I could feel her energy, when she started talking. Despite my plans I interviewed her, and not Anna, who was sitting next to her. Gocha was silently standing nearby.
- Marina, what’s the main problem your family faces?
Marina: There are two disabled persons in our family. My granddaughter Mariam (8-year-old) and my son Gocha. My son needs a special diet, it is vital for him to have meat and dairy products. It’s quite impossible with our modest income. But you know, what the most difficult thing is? To buy meat for Gocha and see how the other children are looking at him with hungry eyes, just eating pasta and buckwheat.
Marishka suffers cerebral palsy, and she permanently needs diapers, and you know how much they cost. We are doing our best, but sometimes she has to stay in the same diaper, for a much longer time, than she should to. I feel awkward even asking you this, but there is not enough space in our house, maybe you could help us to build at least one more room here?
- You said that there are two disabled persons here, could you tell me more about their disease. Can it be treated? What is needed, maybe some medications?
Marina: As I said before, Mariam has had cerebral palsy and epilepsy from her very birth. She was born at five months. She spent four months in an incubator, that’s why she is special. As for Gocha, he had food poisoning when he was a child, and improper treatment caused his current situation. We don’t need medications, we only need a walker for Marishka.
As for the treatment - both of them are incurable. But Gocha critically needs proteins, because he suffers protein deficiency and he needs a high-protein diet. I remember, when we had no money for a special diet for Gocha, he got swollen. He was on the edge of death. I did not know what to do, I kept taking side-jobs to buy some milk for him.
Mariam’s condition might be improved - she has been recently operated on, which was financed by the state, now her leg muscles have opened a little bit.
- What happened to you? How did you find yourselves in such a situation?
Marina: It happens. Our life went this way. We did not live in need before. My husband and me lived in the city center, in Rustaveli avenue. He had a good position in the ministry. But when the new government came as the result of the overthrow, he was dismissed from his post. We did not lose our apartment in Rustaveli at that time, but later we had to sell it, because we needed money for Gocha’s treatment. That’s when we found ourselves homeless.
My husband could not find a good job anymore, and he started having mental problems, but it happened before Gocha was born. You know, he used to be a gentle and creative person, but in 1992 he was sent to the war. In Abkhazia. I could not recognize him when he was back. Honestly, I did not turn off the light in the room for several months, because he could not sleep, he had nightmares and he shuddered at every rustle. Later he went to Tskhinvali. He had got concussion before - Merab is not a war person. But that’s not all. One night on his way home he fell into a deep pit, he got severe concussion followed by coma. He spent a long time in hospital being in coma, over time he began to stink of a corpse, and cadaveric spots appeared on his body, like those of the dead. The doctors offered to switch off the life-support, but I begged them not to do that - I believed he would be better. And he survived. Now he is almost OK, but he has occasional memory gaps, he often forgets basic things, nothing can be entrusted to him.
Is medicine helpless in Merab’s case? Can any medications help?
We did everything to help him to be back to normal life, we gathered our last pennies for his medical examination, he was prescribed the treatment, which he completely went through. It was the maximum of what could do for Merab’s treatment, nothing else can help him.
-You are nine people in the family! How do you fit in such a tiny house?
Marina: We do not fit, dear. We sleep one upon another, there is very little space here. But I’m not complaining, it’s a palace if compared with our previous dwelling. We moved here not long ago, we used to shelter in a tiny wooden shed before, where water flowed through the cracks. Every night children went to bed with a fear that the shed would collapse upon them.
We got this land as a gift from “Iavnana” Foundation. There was only this wooden shed, better say hut, nothing else. We worked a lot to build a brick house here. Well, it does not look exiting, but the girls sleep peacefully at night now.
- Marina, Anna! You both have sick kids. What would you advise to mothers in the same situation as yours?
Anna: You should never complain, you just have to accept this and learn to live with this. Since it has happened, it should have happened - it’s the heaven’s will.
Marina: I will agree with Anna, but I will also add that you should never give up. You know, Marishka is like that because it is a result of miscarriage. When it happened, Anechka was taken to hospital and from the very beginning the doctor told us not even try to do anything. Just to get rid of the child, as if it were an unnecessary thing. After Mariam spent four months in the incubator and her diagnosis was confirmed, the doctor told me: “Leave her here, don't torture yourself! We will move her to the right place!” My answer was: “If she dies, let her die at home!" I don’t regret, that we took Marishka home, we love her as all other girls. And girls love her, take care of her, play with her.
- You are very strong, Marina! - Does anybody help you? Maybe relatives?
Marina: Anna has no relatives, she was raised in an orphanage. I also have a daughter, she helps me from time to time, bringing us meat and food, whenever she can. If not for her, Gocha would...He would not be alive.
Did you address governmental authorities?
Marina: Yes, we get social allowance and disability allowance for Gocha and Mariam. Out total income is 640 GEL per month. My son Vladimir tries to earn some money. He is an electrician, but he cannot earn enough unofficially. And if he gets an official job, the salary will not be good for sure. However we will be definitely disqualified of social allowance. We will not survive without it. So we have to work somehow, I also try to do something. Usually I work as a cleaner. But Gocha might get sick anytime, that’s why I want to be by him.
- Marina, Anna, now let’s talk about positive things. How did you meet your husbands?
Anna laughed shyly and began her short story, all lit up with happiness:
- We met when I was still in the orphanage. His family had already sold their house and they were looking for a place to live. An acquaintance of Marina worked in the orphanage and sheltered them. That’s where we met and fell in love. I knew about their situation, but does it matter when you are in love? I don’t regret at all! We have wonderful children, and our big family is what makes me happy.
Now it was Marina’s turn. In the blue eyes of this petite woman, I saw the light that young girls sometimes have, she smiled and said proudly:
- Me? As for me, I was 15 and he was 20. At that time I was in Russia, at my relatives’ place, and he also came there. One month later I ran away with him. I fell in love with him and still love him. If there had been a chance for me to run away earlier, I would have done it, but he was waiting till he had his own money - his salary (she laughed). We spent a great time at the seaside in Sukhumi and then returned to Tbilisi. It caused quite a stir in the family. Mom was shouting, dad did not want to talk with me. But love, is not it craziness?
- You are quite a rebel, Marina! Now I would like to talk to the kids, if it is possible.
We moved to the room where tree angels were running around and one angel was lying in bed. As soon as Marina entered the room, Mariam grabbed her grandmother, began kissing her, hugging her and yelling happily. A wonderful child!
Let’s start with the elder one, beautiful Nino.
- Nino, what do you, girls, like doing together?
Nino (10-year-old): We love watching animated films, but different ones. The films that Anastasia and Salome watch are not interesting, because they are for babies. They also play with toys, and I am too big for that. I like cooking and I always help mommy and grandmother. We also like drawing.
Do you have sketchbooks, paints and pencils for that?
Nino (10-year-old): We have some pencils and we draw with them. We don’t have sketchbooks, because they are expensive. We draw in old unused notebooks.
- Do you have a favorite fairy tale?
Nino (10-year-old): Yes, of course! “Little Red Riding Hood”
Anastasia (6-year-old): I like “Little Red Riding Hood” too!
- Anastasia, what is your favorite dish?
Anastasia (6-year-old): Probably rice. Or pasta. I don’t know any other.
- Do you like sweets?
Anastasia (6-year-old): Yes, especially chocolate. I don’t often have it, but I like it. We all love chocolate.
- Salome, what about you? What is your favorite toy?
Salome (5-year-old): That honey bee, because we are much alike, she is as kind as I am.
- You are a real angel! What do you want to be when you grow up?
Salome (5-year-old): I want to become a doctor, to make my sister healthy.
- Girls, do you love Mariam?
The little beauties say “Yes!” all together, and then little Salome adds: “But sometimes she hugs us too much”
We could not talk to Mariam. Due to her illness, she does not talk. But the girls give her all their love, especially the eldest, Nino, as Mariam used to be her only sister for two years. The girls spent a lot of time together, they have a special relationship. When Mariam tried to make her first steps, but burst into tears with pain, Nino rushed to her and started to shout even more loudly than t British football fans do: “Go, Mari, you can! I believe in you!”
... Marina: While we have no walkers, we are trying to do something ourselves so that Mariska could study. We hope that she will start to walk a little bit soon.
- Marina, let’s go to the past again. Imagine, you have one chance to fix everything. Would you use this chance?
She looked at me directly with her warm eyes and silently said “no”, and then continued:
We all dream about a big house, about wealth, and I did as well. By now I understand how insignificant my dreams used to be - a real dream is right here, next to me. It is Marishka’s first steps she is trying to make so diligently, it is my kindest Gocha, it is my whole family. This is happiness. I thank God for all this. I am a person who can adapt to everything. Who does not complain and is grateful. This is not a hard fate, but a gift from the heaven to have such a large and friendly family.
- “You are a woman who deserves admiration. You are so fragile, but so strong! - Do you believe in kindness of people?
Marina: Yes, for sure! Earlier, when I was still carelessly living in the city center, I always helped the poor. I remember our neighbor's child starving. I made some food, but I did not want to show these people that I knew about their difficult situation. I went to the boy’s mother and told her that Lado does not want to eat alone, so I asked her to tell her son to come to our place and have dinner together with him. Some time later, we found ourselves here starving. So the neighbor came to my place and said: “Marina, I made too much borsch, we won’t be able to eat it all, have some, please.” Well, I knew she never made “too much borsch”... Life is an interesting thing, isn’t it?
Kindness comes back - there are kind people, I know.
- And what are you dreaming about?
Marina: I want people to value life and never fall into despair - that's what I dream about. I remember I was told that Gocha was going to live not more than for 15 years. But I believed that he would live much longer and I will do everything for that. I've made a lot of sacrifices, I worked to buy him the food he needed. He is already 23, and I hope he will live much longer than that. He is a wonderful boy, believe me!
– Why did you decide to address our Fund?
Marina: Because you really help! You are humans with a capital “H” Thanks for that, thank you for coming and listening to our story.
I hugged all of them and was about to leave when Mariam whined suddenly and reached for me. The girl hugged me and kissed me good bye.
The story would have finished here, but let me draw your attention to the most silent hero of this tragic story - to Gocha. A quiet guy, who did not say a word during my entire visit there, took to see me off. We got to talking on our way. He proved that it was absolutely true when Marina called him “a wonderful boy”. While we were walking, not a single car passed without honking him as a sign of greeting, kids ran up to him asking how he was doing. Everybody loves him there.
He said that he wanted to become a programmer and that not long ago he declared his feelings to a girl.
You declared your feelings? As simple as that? You were not scared?
Gocha: Why should I have been scared? I got feelings for her and I told her about it. But she did not respond. The most important, however, is that I did it.
This shy boy turned out to be such a real man. But besides the courage, there is something else ... his biggest dream is to create his own charity foundation. Gocha helped his neighbors and those in need many times. Together with his friend he is planning to make this dream come true.
- What does it give to you? What feelings?
Gocha: It makes me feel a real man. This is the best thing in the world, why should we live if we do not help those who need our help?
Friends, they are wonderful people, who keep hoping. Call them, visit them and you will see that.
The family needs food, especially meat - it is critical for Gocha. They also need hygiene products, diapers and a walker for Mariam. They have to fit in a two-room house, let’s help them to expand their house a little bit. Because the children need their private space.
All the furniture in the house is very old, but they do not complain. However, their washing machine barely performs its functions, let's replace it with a newer one and make their life easier. The girls like drawing, but they don’t have enough means to buy drawing materials. We can help those girls to develop their talent.
Friends, God gives us a chance to show our kindness and mercy - let’s do that.
Let’s pray for this big and friendly family, let’s ask God to give them a better life.
Let’s support them, show mercy, let’s give the children a chance of developing and having a happy childhood. You can visit the family in person and provide them help. Children will be happy, for sure!
Call Anna and ask her what her family needs, cheer her up and support her, let her feel that she is not alone and that we will not leave her in trouble. It’s extremely important!
Address: Tbilisi, Gldani village, Avchala, 2 Gorgasali Str Phone: 568-671-909
Friends, Chernovetskyi Charity Fund is starting a charity campaign to help the Khubashvili family. As you know, the Fund never stops on ad-hoc help. The country and its people have no future without children! Take care of the young generation! Let them survive! Count them as your relatives. And we are sure that God will bless you!
Please repost our publication. Let your friends know about the grief of this family! It’s extremely important!
God gives us chances to care about people who are unable to take care of themselves. Not all people are the same. Not all of them are as kind as we are. Do not pass by someone else's trouble! Those poor people are sent to us by heaven so that we could prove not by words, but in deeds that we trust in God!
Friends, there is one more request - if you know about the misfortune of a neighbor or friend do a godly deed, drop us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Fund’s accounts are
(Purpose: Khubashvili family).
You can also transfer money from our website.
It is also possible to transfer money from ОРРА, TBCpay and ExpressPay terminals. Find our Fund under "Charity" section. (You can read more about rights and responsibilities of the Fund following the link https://goo.gl/GY2Gus )
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Let's believe that helping others, we take care of our own souls and draw closer to Lord through the suffering that we experience for others!