- Bella, what do you do when your mom gets sick?
- I quickly cover her with a blanket and run to the neighbors. To call for help... We don’t have phone - how can I call ambulance? - the girl tries not to look into my eyes. - We have absolutely nothing. And I don’t want anything, if only mommy wouldn’t get sick!
We barely found this creepy ruined house where mother Natia lives with her two wonderful kids - 5-year-old Giorgi and 9-year-old Bella. It was simply impossible to imagine that people could live here... This room is even worse inside than outside: it’s damp, dirty, with soot from wood-burning stove all around.... Two iron beds, two chairs and a table - that’s how these poor children live. They want nothing - they only want their mom to be safe and sound.
“I can collapse anytime anywhere and be unconscious for about 20 or 30 minutes... You see, I hit my head so many times! And I don’t remember when and how it happened. My children tell me what’s happening to me. They get so scared, poor ones!” - the unfortunate woman cries. – “After the first attacks I thought it was the end, but as you see, I got used to it. We got used to everything - to poverty, hunger, and cold...”
Now let's tell everything in order. Mom Natia and her two children - 5-year-old Giorgi and 9-year-old Bella - live in a... well, I don't know how to call it. In a barn? In a shack? In a hut? But they live there. In no way it can be called home.
There is nothing here - only two iron beds and a table. Dampness, sadness, and pain - that’s it!
When mother Natia had her first epileptic attack, immediately followed by the second and third one, they told her that it was from nerves and that she had to change something.
Natia: What to change? How to change? I knew what caused all this. Not a good life. My husband beat me - I passed out many times, this is the reason for my disease. I don’t even remember what it’s called. I don’t remember many things. During the attacks, I hit my head many times, I have seven stitches on my head! My whole head is punched, do you want to touch it?
- Natia, how often do the attacks happen?
Natia: Quite often, sometimes several times a day. For instance, I had one attack in the morning and another one before you came. Sometimes a week passes, yet nothing happens... I don’t know what does it depend on. I am passed out for 20-30 minutes... I don’t remember myself, my children tell me.
- How do you manage to cope with that?
Natia: My mother lives with us. She can’t leave me alone even for a second. My kids are still young, and they are afraid of me. I don't remember anything what happens to me, I switch off and come to my senses on the floor ... I am foaming from the mouth... It used to be very scary for me. I cried after each attack, I thought it was the end, but I got used to it.
- I can’t imagine how one can get used to that...
Natia: Oh, dear, a person can get used to anything ... We got used to hunger, to the cold, we got used that we are beggars, that they laugh at my children ... But what to do?
- What to do, indeed? You are sick, your mother cannot work, she looks after you, the children are little. What do you live on?
Natia: A social allowance is our only income. We get 220 GEL and we pay 90 GEL for rent. With the rest of money we buy medications and food. Without medications attacks happen to me 3-4 times a day! My body just can't stand it. Then it takes time for me to come to senses, to start thinking ... My mind is already like a sieve, I forget everything ...
- Natia, what do you usually eat? Does anybody help you?
Natia: Our neighbors are very kind, sometimes they treat us with lunch, sometimes they take the children to their place and give them food. We can't even bathe normally. I can't wash children’s clothes normally. We bring water, and I wash things in cold water with my hands... Bella says that although the clothes are clean, they still look dirty ... That’s why she is embarrassed to go to school ... (Cries.)
Bella: Don't be silly, don't cry. I don't go to school to be with you!
- Bella, can I talk to you?
Bella: Okay. When mom starts crying, it is difficult to calm her down. I’ll tell you everything.
- Why don’t you go to school?
Bella: I told you I need to look after my mom. What if she hits her head, and there is no one nearby? Someone should call for help.
- Is it the only reason?
Bella: If I tell you do you promise not to tell anybody? I don’t like going to school... Everyone laughs at me there. I don’t have friends. I think, it’s because of my clothes. They are all torn and look dirty.
- What kind of clothes would you like to have?
Bella: I don’t know... What kind can it be? Not like this. Not the ones that look dirty. And without holes. It would be better for my mom to have a washing machine - it’s very hard for her to wash by hands. And she does not let me to wash the laundry. She says that girls cannot keep their hands in cold water. Isn't she a girl?
- You probably want to have dresses like cartoon princesses have?
Bella: I don’t know what kind of dresses do they have... I don’t know how the princesses in the cartoons look like. I’ve never seen cartoons, never.
I did not expect to hear such a thing... Tears started flowing from me involuntarily. A 9-year-old girl, who looks like a princess herself, has never - you know, never - watched cartoons... She has no idea who the princesses are, no idea that there are beautiful dresses, and beautiful dolls; that there is a life that is so different from her usual life... She has no idea…
Bella: Oh, you started crying too... The adults are like cry-babies!
- Natia, I don’t know what to tell you. Tell me, please, what can we do for you to make your life easier? What do you need first of all?
Natia: I don’t even know. Foodstuffs, probably. And beds. Can I ask for one more thing? For a washing machine? Honestly, it’s really difficult for me to wash by hands... And I can’t remove stains from the old clothes that kind people give us. I need medications... And can I ask for sausages for my children? They love them so much.
- Maybe anything else?
Bella: May I say? We don’t have a phone. When mom is sick and I have to urgently call a doctor or call for help, I rush to our neighbors and ask them to give me a phone. May we have an old phone? I don’t ask it for me, but for my mom.
What to say? What to add more? The words have lost their sense. Everything loses sense when you see such things.
Natia Aptsiauri and her children are beyond poverty, they need absolutely everything: foodstuffs, medications, clothes and shoes for children, a computer, a telephone, beds, and basic furniture. A fridge, gas stove and washing machine would make their life much easier.
You can visit them and provide all possible help to the Aptsiauri family. Address: Kaspi, Javakhishvili Str, barrack.
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