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During fighting in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia in 2008, SOS Children's Villages cared for refugee families in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi as well as families from the area of Kutaisi. SOS Children's Villages provided families with food, clothing and emotional support … more about our charity work in Georgia

Working together to build a better life

Elena and her son Luka
Elena and her son Luka

Today is the International Day for the Eradication or Poverty. In Georgia, poverty, in combination with unemployment, is a major problem for many families. Elena is just one of the parents SOS Children are working with to help them to find employment and support their families’ financial needs.

When SOS Children came into contact with Elena, she lived with her husband and her young son Luka in an abandoned garage. It was cold and damp, the roof was damaged and the rain was pouring in. Elena’s husband, Levan, worked at the local market and only received a very low daily income. Elena was pregnant and it was clear that this was an unhealthy environment for a young child and a new born baby. Elena’s son already suffered from health problems.

Elena was enrolled onto the SOS Family Strengthening Programme, and an SOS social worker recommended that Elena take Luka to the local clinic where he received treatment for his medical problems. Luka also began to attend the SOS Nursery. The social worker supported Elena herself to register at a clinic. She was able to pick up free food for her family in the local community hall.

SElena with baby, GeorgiaOS Children applied to several governmental organisations for support on Elena’s behalf. After these applications were refused, the social worker decided that SOS Children would help Elena directly to improve her living conditions. The walls of her house were repaired and parquet flooring was laid on the concrete floor. The living space was divided in such a way that rain does not pour into the room and the stove can warm it to a normal temperature. Elena has now given birth to her child and the family now lives in much better conditions.

The story of Elena is typical for many families in Georgia: Poverty, in combination with low wages or unemployment, is a major problem. "Support is needed to meet even the children’s basic needs of clothing, nutrition and school books", explains Nana Rukhadze, The Manager of the SOS Family Strengthening Programme in Georgia. "Some children need after-school classes, particularly when you imagine the conditions they live in. We sometimes provide families in crisis with household supplies, nutrition or building materials to secure their houses. But this is only a short-term service because we want to support families to become self-reliant."

Employment support is vital for families to support themselves. Parents who have been out of work for some time are often negative about their capabilities. SOS Children run a programme designed to raise aspirations and enable participants to recognise their skills. They are trained to understand and respond to job market requirements; master skills in job hunting and CV writing and to acquire new professional knowledge, or gain qualification in their profession. This support has been offered to both Elena and her husband, which will enable them to maintain a good standard of living for their family in the long-term.

Read more about our Family Strengthening Programmes, which help families to stay together in difficult circumstances.