Bringing Covid relief to people with disabilities in GeorgiaPublished: Dec 29, 2021 Reading time: 3 minutes
The Qedeli community in Georgia is home to almost 30 people with disabilities, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially difficult for most of them. Many were isolated for long periods of time, which made working difficult, even impossible. To help them get back on their feet, People in Need (PIN) provided support through the EU-funded COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for the Eastern Partnership.
On a recent visit, dozens of people with disabilities sat in a large room with a beautiful view of the mountains in the Sighnaghi region of Georgia. Their teacher was helping them to play different musical instruments. Music therapy is a new activity in the Qedeli community, introduced during the pandemic as a way of reducing stress “COVID-19 has been very hard for us,” says Maka Chakhnashvili from The Association of Socially Helpless Therapy of Sighnaghi Region - Qedeli Community. “Before, we had a café in the centre of Sighnaghi and our residents were working there every day. It was a source of income and also a source of integration and socialisation for the residents. When COVID-19 came, the café was closed.”
The new music therapy sessions are helping to improve the psychological and emotional state of the residents, Maka says. “It includes three therapies:music therapy, eurhythmy therapy – that translates into movement therapy – and sessions with psychologists. We bought musical instruments and we have a teacher who comes every week.” Navigating the crisis also meant creating new employment opportunities. While the café was closed, several workshops were established so that people could produce handicrafts as a source of income. In addition, the Qedeli community launched a new website, which will be used for selling handicrafts online. Thanks to the project, they were also able to buy raw materials for producing handicrafts.
PIN also supports people with disabilities in the Kakheti region of Georgia through the partner organisation Accessible Environment for Everyone. One of the beneficiaries is Vova Kikilashvili from Sighnaghi. He is in a wheelchair. It bothered him that he had poor access to his home, so PIN built him a ramp that made his life much easier. He tends to the household by himself, enjoys exercising, and keeps busy by caring for his rabbits.
PIN is working alongside five civil society organisations in Georgia through the EU-funded COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for the Eastern Partnership. The aim of this project is to mitigate the adverse effects of COVID-19 and to contribute to the longer-term socioeconomic resilience of vulnerable groups in Eastern Europe. “The pandemic created hardships for people worldwide, but the hardships were even more severe for people with disabilities, especially in underserved communities,” says Marta Bibilashvili, PIN project manager. “The Covid-19 solidarity project enabled our partner CSOs to provide need-based services to their beneficiaries, which helped them to overcome not only the barriers that were created during the pandemic, but also received assistance that will contribute to their long-term well-being.”
Implemented by PIN and in partnership with the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and AFEW International, this project funded by the European Union includes interventions in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.