Wearing cast-offs. You don’t care about luxury when you have to survive!
“I always wear someone’s old clothes - I have no other. It is disgusting, but my mother cannot buy me anything new... Ma’am, you know - we are poor!" - 11-year-old Carlo addresses me with these words. He shyly lowers his eyes, where one can see hurt and sadness, as if the boy had matured ahead of time, having understood that life is unfair.
Duta - as his family calls him affectionately - takes a bucket and goes to collect water from the neighbors' tank. Every single day, the boy helps his mother with the housework. At such a young age, he already does the work that children usually don’t do: he brings water several times a day, helps with chopping wood, and also looks after his little sister, six-year-old Salome. But he is still a child, he wants to play with friends, watch cartoons. But the boy is deprived of all childhood joys. His family lives in dire conditions and extreme poverty. They have to survive day after day.
Mother Ia Khizanashvili (33 years old) admits that they often don’t even have a piece of bread because a tiny allowance they get is enough for nothing and the family has no other source of income. They live in a dilapidated house, with no conditions at all for normal life. There are two little children in the family, and they often get sick because of dampness and cold. There is also an elderly grandmother who needs expensive medications, but the family cannot afford to buy them.
Despite all the hardships of life, Ia does her best to fight and cope with all adversity. However, problems are growing like a snowball, lack of money, deteriorating health, and the fear that their family with little children could be kicked out of the house threw the poor woman into despair. Ia addressed our Fund hoping that kind and empathetic people would not remain indifferent to the problems of their family.
- Ia could you please describe in what conditions does your family live?
Ia: We live in dire need. This house does not belong to us, it’s our temporary housing. They can ask us to move from here any time. There are no appliances here except for an old TV and a gas stove which is about to fall apart. You see that conditions here are unbearable, especially for two little children and a sick old woman who suffers echinococcosis of the liver and high platelet count. Doctors refuse to operate on her since she may not survive the surgery. But echinococcosis cannot be treated by drugs, the only way for its treatment is surgical intervention. Besides that, my mother has a spine hernia. She was operated on once but after a while the doctors discovered that a hernia appeared again. It's hard for her to walk, she tries to move around the room, leaning on sticks, but her legs hurt a lot and swell - mom suffers a lot. She needs expensive medicines, but we have no money. We just survive - there is no other name for our existence. I also suffer echinococcosis and spinal disc hernia. I don’t want to be operated on yet: firstly, we have no funds for this, and secondly, I need someone who will help me after... I have little children and a sick mother, who need my attention. You know I can't think about my health right now... (Cries.)
- Please do not worry! We are so sorry for you! What kind of help do you need first of all right now?
Ia: I know many people are living in more difficult conditions than we live. But it's really hard for me now. I have no other way - the need makes me address kind people for help. We need beds. We only have two of them at home - old iron ones, which are already good for nothing. For health reasons, my mother should sleep separately, but Duta lies next to her, and my daughter and I sleep on the second bed. We have no washing machine, no refrigerator, no computer, not even a gas stove at home. Actually, we have an old gas stove, but it barely stands, and I prop it up with something so that it does not wobble. But this is dangerous! When I put something to cook on the fire, I'm afraid that the boiling water will pour out on my children. We have a table instead of a refrigerator - I put pots with food on it. But often the food goes bad, and I have to throw it away. There is no refrigerator, but what can I do? I heat the house with a wood-burning stove, but it is still freezing here: the room itself is very cold, the roof is made of planks, and covered with old slate. It blows heavily here. It is cold at home, but we still don't heat properly to save firewood. I wash laundry with my hands. I bring water in buckets and wait for it to reach room temperature, and then I wash laundry somehow. You need water, but there is no water in the house. My neighbors have a water tank in their yard. They let me take water from their tank and fill ours. Sometimes I bring water seven or eight times a day to have enough of it for a couple of days. Sometimes it happens that the water in the tank freezes, and we are left without it. Our health condition is good for nothing! The children constantly suffer back pains, doctors diagnosed both of them with scoliosis, because they help me all the time in these terrible conditions. They also bring water by buckets and when I chop firewood, they take it home. But they are still children! My heart hurts!
- What do you live on now?
Ia: We get a social allowance - 280 GEL, plus 600 GEL for food for the kids. This is our whole income! Should I buy food for kids or drugs for my mom? I have to make this choice all the time. Money is enough for nothing! I would never have asked you for help and would keep struggling alone. But now my situation is hopeless indeed. I am sorely short of money! Besides all the problems, there is also a risk of ending up in the street... I'm scared!
- Why can they kick you out from your home?
Ia: This house does not belong to us. It belongs to my uncle, his parents used to live here and my parents too. When my father died, my mother stayed in his parents' house and took care of them for the rest of their lives. Then my uncle died of cancer, having bequeathed this house to his wife and children who now live in Tbilisi. It means that nothing belongs to us here. Even the old gas stove and TV are not ours. So far, my uncle's family did not directly tell us to move out from here, but they made it clear that they will ask us to do that soon...
- Did you address the local authorities for help?
Ia: Sure! I’ve been to local administration many times, I wrote applications. But they always have a hundred reasons to refuse to help us - sometimes they have no money, sometimes there some other reasons. They know in what conditions do we live - they know that we are almost homeless... But you know what their response was? “They did not let you out yet,” - they said, - “we’ll help you when it happens...” The authorities do not want to help us now. And what will they be able to do when I will find myself in the street with the children and sick old woman in my hands? When I complained, they told me that they could take what they gave. Can you imagine, they threaten to deprive us of a social allowance of 280 GEL...
- Does anybody help you?
Ia: My neighbors help us a lot! Big thanks to them! For instance, when my neighbor bought a new sofa and chest of drawers, she gave the old ones to us. They also help us with clothes: everything that my children wear came from our neighbors! Sometimes they give me clothes too. That's how we live! All we have are the cast-offs. We have nothing of our own! As you can see, ordinary people help us both with foodstuffs and clothes - people just like us.
- And your relatives?
Ia: As I already said, my father is not alive, my mother is sick and needs help herself. Neither I nor my spouse have brothers and sisters. None of the relatives help us.
- How did you meet your husband?
Ia: We used to live next door, but we were children and did not pay attention to each other. Then I left for Tbilisi, I lived with relatives for a couple of years, helped them with their children. When I came back home, I was already twenty years old. Well, my husband and I crossed paths a couple of times, saw each other in a new light, and then friends brought us together. So, we started our family.
- Ia, what are you dreaming about?
Ia: Health is a must! For my children to eat their fill and live in warmth. I dream that the children would have their own home, that we would no longer have to be afraid, and that we would live without looking back as if we were driven out. Our life now is a prison.
- How do you imagine your future?
Ia: Calm and full of light. I am sure that if we had our own home, then, probably, we would be happy! I think if you do not have your own place to live, then you are deprived of normal life...
– Do you believe in the kindness of strangers?
Ia: Yes, of course! It was strangers who helped me more than anyone else! This is the power of God: to be kind and merciful towards each other.
- Ia could you please tell me a little bit about your children? Could I talk to them?
Ia: I have wonderful and talented children! And they are so smart! They always help me with everything! Salome just entered school, she really likes the Georgian language. Duta missed a whole semester this year - we don't have a computer and he couldn't attend online lessons. My son was very worried about this! He likes to study! He used to attend rugby and Georgian dance classes. But due to lack of finance, we had to quit extracurricular classes...
You can talk to the children. But Salome is very shy... Duta is always happy to communicate.
- Duta, your mom said you are interested in very many things. Have you already chosen what do you want to become when you grow up?
Duta: Painting is my calling. I really love to paint! You know, I see the world in a little bit of a different way, like a real artist. And I would like to convey on canvas my Georgia in a way I see it. It is beautiful! And I want to show you its true face with all the colors.
-You speak so beautifully! Maybe you will also make a good poet?
Duta: I don’t know. (laughs).But I try to gain knowledge in all areas. I want to be well-educated and succeed in life. I will earn a lot of money and will take my mother and grandmother to the best doctors in the world, they will cure them and they will live long! But I have no money now, so I help my mother around the house. For instance, I bring water from a tank. Mom can't do it alone. She has three of us: my sister, me and, our grandmother as well. I am sorry for Mom, she cannot cope alone. Therefore, I do my best to help her.
– Salome do you have a favorite doll?
Salome: I don’t have a favorite doll because I don’t have toys at all. Mom can’t buy them for us. Once they gave me an old toy mouse but it got torn and it became impossible to play with it. I used to go with it to bed and fall asleep immediately. And now I have no toys at all.
- And how you fall asleep then?
Salome: My mom kisses me, hugs me, and says she loves me. Then he strokes my head and I fall asleep. Mom's hands are the dearest...
Two little angels who don't know about a better life. They have never had their own home, they have no idea what it means to live in safety. The children are starving, they have no toys, and their mother is sick. Every morning, when they wake up, they expect the world around them to change. But alas, it remains just as cruel... But it is in our power to give little Duta and Salome a normal childhood. It is in our power to change their world.
Friends, I urge you not to stay indifferent. As you can see, the Khizanashvili family lives in dire poverty. We cannot remain indifferent and not help them! They need foodstuffs, home appliances, and clothes. Let’s help them, let’s show them our mercy, let’s give their children a chance to live normally. Let each of us imagine that these could be our children who are malnourished, and sleep on the floor in a cold house.
Come to visit the Khizanishvili family, ask them what do they need, cheer them up and support them, let them feel that they are not alone and that we will not leave them in trouble. It’s extremely important!
Their address is: Bolnisi Municipality, village Rachisubani.
Friends, Chernovetskyi Charity Fund starts charity campaign to help the Khizanishvili family.
Please repost our interview. Let your friends know about the grief of this family! It’s extremely important!
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.
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(purpose: The Khizanishvili family).
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