The Skills for Life Project serves the biggest long-term need for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) which is employment and training.
The goal is to integrate displaced youth and adults giving them education and skills to shape a successful future. The project pairs artistic craftsmanship, culture and theatre workshops with traditional education as psychological-social aids to encourage traumatized participants.
Skills for Life will rely on the partnership and support from other nearby AFG projects, their volunteers and Gori University, drawing on AFG’s twenty years of experience working in Georgia.
Other Supporting AFG projects and Partner Locations
Community College for Decorative Gardening at Tbilisi Sameba Cathedral
Mercy Center Hospice, Nursing School and Home Care Program At Transfiguration Convent
NGO Biliki in Gori
Akhali-Khurvaleti Innovative Job and Communication Center
Nikozi – Art Education and Rehabilitation Center
How it Started– AFG, with the financial support of several organizations and grants from the U.S. Embassy in Georgia’s Democracy Commission Small Grant Program , Rapidan Foundation and The Clarence and Anne Dillon Dunwalke Trust, launched an ambitious pilot training program for IDP young people and adults from South Ossetia who had lost their homes during the war of 2008. Skills for Life supports the economic and social reintegration of Georgia’s war affected population into the local community through education and vocational training.
Courses and training include art rehabilitation and vocational education in a variety of careers including English language instruction, computer skills, construction skills for men, landscaping, nursing , cosmetology, massage, hairdressing, small and medium business administration , ceramics and enamel cloisonné making.
In addition, the project is helping IDPs become self-sufficient: it encourages their entrepreneurial initiative and decreases the number of unemployed people in the country.
“When I visited our IDP classes at Gori Technical University in August 2009, I was especially touched by the classroom full of IDP women in their 40s and 50s who had been encouraged to take our computer classes by AFG. The women were reluctant because they felt they could not learn this new skill at their age. Although they were traumatized by the loss of their former lives as farmers, they were trying to carve out a new life for themselves. To their amazement, they told me they were enjoying the computer classes.” -Marusya Chavchavadze, AFG’s Executive Director/U.S. Office
Since 2009, around 200 IDPs have been trained including:
- 32 men received training in construction skills such as tile master, mason, plasterer, concrete specialist, painter, steel worker, sanitary technician and welder. Provided in cooperation with the USAID Vocational Training program.
- 41 IDPs took courses in English (beginners and business English), computers (Microsoft Office, PP, Internet) and Small and Medium Business Administration at Gori Technical University in their Higher Professional Education Programs;
- 60 women received vocational training in Business Mgmt, Nursing, Landscaping and crafts.
- 20 women received training in cosmetology, beautician and massage courses at the Gori Women’s Business Incubator;
- 1 man is enrolled at the School for Decorative Gardening in landscaping;
- 1 woman is enrolled at the Mercy Center Hospice in nursing; 70 youth studied English, computers and cloisonné /at Society Biliki in Gori;
- 20 youth studied potter making/ at George Pachkoria’s studio workshop at Isani Temporary housing center. Many participants exhibited their work at a gallery on Shardeni Street in Tbilisi and been even able to sell their art work.
“I am really enjoying my apprenticeship with Hairdresser Training Course. Working with Larisa is great, because I can see what can be achieved when you work hard,” – Eka Otiashvili, (a participant in the beautician course.)
Long term results and sustainability of project
AFG believes it is important to expand the Skills for Life project long term, offering vocational training to additional IDPs. Funding is needed to expand this successful program. AFG is asking for funds to expand the training to more types of vocational skills. In addition, we would like to provide grants to a small self-sustainable cloisonne workshop in Khurvaleti and a ceramic pottery workshops at Isani IDP centers. We would also like to develop a Business Counseling Center (a.k.a.the Akhali-Khurvaleti Innovative Job and Communication Center) to collect data on job opportunities for participants completing their training.
“We plan to continue our studies and enlarge our knowledge. We wish our project continued, we hope to serve our people and our country in developing democracy,” – Mariam Giunashvili, Project Participant.
These Completed Projects led to the start of Skills For Life