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Inspiring Story of Metropolitan Isaiah of the Nikozi Center

Metropolitan Isaiah speaks to visitors outside his church

It is a pleasure to bring you a wonderful and inspiring American Friends of Georgia success story — the Nikozi Art Education and Rehabilitation Center. AFG is committed to help Nikozi Art Education and Rehabilitation Center thrive and bring the healing power, and economic engine of the arts to this community.

During the Russion invasion of Georgia in 2008, Metropolitan Isaiah Chanturia, one of 25 metropolitan bishops in the Georgian Orthodox Church, stayed in Nikozi, a town hard-hit by the conflict. Metropolitan Isaiah remained in Nikosi throughout the bombing and destruction of his monastic residence and continues in residence there to this day. Villagers, inspired by his heroism, have since returned to rebuild their community.

Trained early in life as an animation filmmaker, Metropolitan Isaiah knew the healing power of the arts. He founded the Nikozi Art Education and Rehabilitation Center to provide psycho-social rehabilitation to war-affected children and adolescents through art and vocational education. The Center began an after-school art and education program teaching animation, web design, dance, music, drawing, ceramics and other crafts and was soon overflowing with productive, happy children.

Metropolitan Isaiah very quickly ran out of space as over 100 war-affected children came from Nikozi and surrounding villages to join the program. In 2011, Metropolitan Isaiah approached American Friends of Georgia to help him reconstruct a ruined kindergarten donated by the Governor of Gori. AFG, in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan, completed construction of the Center in 2013. Now Met. Isaiah is looking for ways to expand this very successful program and open the doors to many more. We hope you will join us in helping to make this expansion possible.

Nikosi Center, little dancers, children in a classroom, a budding musician

The Center also fosters the economic growth and development of Nikozi and surrounding villages by organizing the annual International Animation Film Festival, now in its tenth year, which brings filmmakers from other parts of the world to Nikozi to show their films, including filmmakers from Russia.


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