AFG: About Us: Our Partners
American Friends of Georgia’s work would not be possible without the continuing support of our American partners. AFG is grateful for the confidence and generosity shown by the following organizations (See Links Page for website addresses):
American Express Foundation
America-Georgia Business Council
Doyle New York
Evelyn Stefansson Nef Foundation
Georgian Association in the U.S.A.
Georgian Embassy, Washington, DC
John H. Hartford Foundation
Northrop Grumman Corporation
Proteus Gowanus Gallery
Ralph E. Ogden Foundation, Inc.
Russian Nobility Association in America
Soros Open Society Foundation
The Howard Phipps Foundation
The First Step
U.S. Embassy, Tbilisi, Georgia
Extraordinary Georgian Partners Make All the Difference in the World.
AFG’s effectiveness in Georgia is directly dependent upon our partnerships with extraordinary individuals and groups in Georgia. Those mentioned here are the ones with whom we have had the longest relationships. Additional partners are referred to in the AFG Projects section.
Ten years ago, Mother Mariam, Abbess of the Transfiguration Convent in the center of Tbilisi, became our first AFG partner. Young, dynamic, practical and deeply spiritual, her initial concern was looking after the street children, so she and her volunteers organized the first shelter for street children in Georgia, which was Dzegvi Orphanage. Now AFG has helped Mother Mariam and her volunteers to purchase houses in a village called Bediani two hours from Tbilisi, and the two projects have become one. All children, regardless of religion or ethnic origin, are given food, clothing, medicine, education and unconditional love. This project, started under Mother Mariam’s watchful eye, has become a unique example of how 120 street children can be rehabilitated and reintroduced to society as healthy and educated individuals.
Mother Mariam continues to bring an optimistic, visionary and entrepreneurial approach to dealing with social problems. With help from AFG, she has established a Shelter for Single Mothers in Bediani where they are learning skills, which will eventually enable them to support their children. Mother Mariam’s newest project is the Mercy Center, the first hospice and School for Hospice Nurses in Georgia. One of the objectives of the nursing program is to provide in home hospice care which is non existent in Georgia. The Evelyn Stefansson Nef Foundation, one of our American partners, has provided grants towards the purchase of a hospice building and an ambulance.
Since 1996, AFG has provided help to the Children’s Tuberculosis Hospital. Dr. Tengis Gvasalia, the director, receives children from all over Georgia and continues to save many lives with his concerned care, human warmth and great professionalism. AFG has given his hospital money for medicines, medical equipment and renovation.
Dr. Nestan Duduchava of the Tbilisi Psychoneurological Dispensary is providing medical care to her mentally ill elderly patients. AFG and the Evelyn Stefansson Nef Foundation purchased a used vehicle to deliver medical assistance and drugs to her homebound patients. AFG and the Evelyn Stefansson Nef Foundation also provided funds to renovate and open a gleaming new facility in Tbilisi, which is the first Geriatric Department at the Institute of Psychiatry specifically for patients who cannot be cared for at home. The Nef Foundation recently gave a grant to AFG for Dr. Duduchava’s new pilot program to create an Activity Club for elderly persons, another first of its kind in Georgia.
AFG has provided assistance to Dr. Vakho Sikharulidze of the Kutaisi Psychiatric Clinic, as he tries to provide his mentally ill patients with innovative and compassionate treatment. He has introduced a suicide hotline, special care for schizophrenics, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and group therapy.
Dr. Levan Bakanidze, an oncologist, has finished renovating the Children’s Department of the National Cancer Center with funds from AFG. The Department now features new plumbing, floors, electricity and freshly painted walls which have been an incredible morale booster to the young patients, their parents and staff. The children no longer have to be taken home to be bathed.
Nata Rostomashvili and Mariam Dagundaridze started NGO New Life, the first school for disabled children in Eastern Georgia. Through their creativity and dedication, they have been able to show the children’s parents and the community at large that disabled children can learn and contribute to society. AFG and a German organization have helped them to buy and renovate a new school that can accommodate many more children and gives them space to help them become self-sufficient.
Mari Mgebrishvili of NGO Biliki in Gori is giving an education to poor children who were not attending school and out on the streets begging to help support their families. AFG recently sent a grant so they can purchase a building to start a professional laundry business, which will give employment to these families and help the school earn money to take in more students.
Mother Tekla, another nun from the Transfiguration Convent, was asked by the Georgian Patriarch to be the Director of Ecology. The Patriarch’s strong concern about the environment and some help from AFG allowed Mother Tekla to open an Ecology School during the summer for city children ages 10-15. Set in 100-year-old Bukia Garden in the middle of Tbilisi, the children learn about the environment and how to protect it. A nursery for 6,000 trees was started to replace trees cut down for fuel due to lack of electricity and heat since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Gocha Mikiashvili and
Thanks to the Evelyn Stefansson Nef Foundation, children in all AFG projects now benefit from Lena Kiladze’s Art Education Project for Vulnerable Children. Funds pay for volunteer artists and musicians to travel to AFG’s projects for abandoned and sick children, and also pay for children to visit cultural institutions. In June 2005, over 60 children saw their first Georgian ballet and visited their first Georgian museum in Tbilisi.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia is an association aiming to promote the development of commercial relations between Georgia, the United States of America, and the international community in Georgia.
AFG’s Georgian partners are achieving groundbreaking successes and offering hope where none previously existed. But a tremendous amount of work lies ahead. There are still so many more problems to be solved and all of them feel urgent. Dr. Nestan Duduchava puts it this way, “AFG tries to resolve our existing problems and helps us in the areas which we select as priorities. This is different from bigger organizations that do not think about saving a population that has no chance to wait.”
Please don’t wait. Won’t you help us continue this essential life giving work by contributing today?