September 14, 2014
Summer is winding down and my thoughts turn to my upcoming trip later this month to beloved Georgia. I will be joining a select group of travelers from October 2-15 for an American Friends of Georgia tour coordinated by Living Roots LTD, a Georgian tour company. It was my pleasure to include tours of many of the AFG-sponsored projects within this scenic and cultural opportunity. This is a twelve day trip designed to show Georgia as a Eurasian treasure trove of cultural, historic and scenic splendor, while helping our travelers understand AFG’s commitment to the vulnerable children and elderly of Georgia.
The tour will wind through the colorful capital of Tbilisi with a visit to the National Museum of Georgia, take in stunning Kakheti in Eastern Georgia, the heart of Georgia’s largest wine region and home to some of the country’s most splendid scenery and ancient sites. We’ll trek to Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia, and then visit a cave town from the 1st millennium BC. Lastly, we’ll explore Svaneti, the ‘Land of the Golden Fleece’, where the epic legend of the Argonauts took place, one of the most attractive provinces of Georgia. Ushguli, a UNESCO world heritage site in Svaneti is 2100 meters above sea level, the highest continuously inhabited village in Europe. The road up to our hotel, clinging to the mountain, will be an experience in itself! All along the tour, we’ll have lots of options: walking, feasting on Georgian food and wine, listening to music, meeting with local people, visiting ancient and extremely beautiful and unforgettable sites. I’m looking forward to it, as well as experiencing it through the eyes and adventurous spirits of our guests.
Here are some photographs illustrating the projects highlighted on our October tour:
Mercy Center Hospice
Georgia’s only hospice, nursing school and home care program for the seriously ill and elderly, located in Tbilisi. Just over 100 home care patients and seven live-in patients receive care currently from twenty nurses in this unique program. AFG funded the complete renovation of the hospice and school, and continues to fund the salaries of home visit nurses. Our Tour group will meet Mother Mariam, the hospice founder, for dinner and conversation!
Institute of Decorative Gardening and Ecology
The first landscaping school in Georgia, this community college has matriculated over 900
students, who have a high rate of employment following graduation. AFG funds student
scholarships and equipment like books, projectors, computers, copy machines, and seminars in Germany, Poland and England for promising students. The gardens should still have incredible roses when we arrive!
Nikozi Art, Education and Rehabilitation Center
An after-school program for over 100 war-affected children to provide psychosocial rehabilitation through the arts and education. AFG primarily funded the complete renovation of a ruined building with the assistance of the Japanese Embassy, and continues to support afterschool enrichment. This is AFG’s newest project—and I can’t wait to share the children’s shadow puppet show with our tour group!
Tbilisi Day Care Center
This is a kindergarten program for at-risk children, with histories including abandonment and abuse, to prepare them for the public school system. AFG supports the rent, salaries and educational supplies for the teachers in this invaluable program for 18 disadvantaged pre-school children. Our tour group will experience the music and art of the children—and it will be sweet!
Hematology and Oncology Center and the Parents House
Modeled on the Ronald McDonald Houses of the US, the Parents House provides separate housing and kitchen area for families and children receiving cancer treatment along with a communal area and café. AFG funded building this completely new structure, located next to the only Children’s Hematology-Oncology Clinic in Tbilisi, and continues to fund art rehabilitation projects and programs. Our tour group will see comfortable lodgings, and perhaps mingle at the café with parents and families!
On the last night of the tour, we will be celebrating AFG’s 20th anniversary in Tbilisi. When I return, I look forward to sharing with all of you the latest information on our projects and all about our tour.
Thanks for all you do to support American Friends of Georgia – our work, fueled by your donations, reaches people you may never meet, but whose lives are made better by your efforts.
P.S. All 12 of our partner organizations in Georgia depend on AFG for support and AFG depends on you! Please give today at the highest possible level.