Due to high rate of unemployment in Georgia and the lack of job opportunities, most of the people have to find alternative way to earn their living.
By Elvira Abdullayeva and Rena Allahverdiyeva
The office’s adress of Nugzar Mkhalashvili, 74, is Rustaveli Street- the main avenue of Tbilissi, Georgia. Since 15 years, he is making and selling his own handicrafts, made of hammerings on metal and woods.
Their prices are very much depending on their complexity: between 25 and 120 laries – 12 and 60 euros.
Mkhalashvili, one of the ‘first USSR’s pioneer designer“, engaged with this work for about 50 years. He used to be a member of many designer unions from the USA to post-soviet countries. Because of unemployment in Georgia, he has no other choice than doing business with his handicrafts.
According to official statistics, the average monthly wage in Georgia is 233 euros per person. 316 000 persons are unemployed, that is 16 percent of 1 million 945 thousand economically active population.
Mkhalashvili thinks that ‘writing poems is gift of poets. And the ability of hammering is my gift”. Though it is for him the only way of earning his life, Mkhalashvili says he really ‘loves it‘ his job.
For painter Piruz Lobjanidze, 50, painting in the street of Tbilisi, from 10h to 20h, makes him ‘rather tired‘. He started painting on flax and clay plates for about 40 years, now he taught it to his son. He is representing portraits, ‘natures mortes’ or landscapes. The main inspiration for him is different sceneries of Tbilisi.
Integration of disabled people in the rest of society is still a problem in Georgia. Mot of them do not have access to institutions and basing infrastructures, reinforcing their feeling of discrimination.
By Nana Tabatadze and Nino Gelashvili
Every day, Levan Areshidze, 22, uses ramps instead of the stairs. Because of his handicap, he had to quit academic education after finishing school. His mother says the basic reason why Levan did not study was the lack of adapted infrastructure in Tbilisi.
No official data
Levan is not the only person having difficulty to move herself in Georgia. However, officials and institutions have no idea about the number of disabled persons living in the country. A lack of statistics that shows that the problem of handicap and discrimination is far from being a priority of the Georgian institutions.
The NGOs working on this issue are managing round-tables and social activities with disabled persons, rather than acting against the lack of infrastructural projects.
Infratructure in the city
The problem number one for people with physical disabilities is public transport of the city, which is absolutely not adapted for people with wheelchair.
Although there are a number of over-ground bridges with ramps that were built over the last few years in the city, they remain useless: since they are too steep, disabled persons are unable to move on them independently.