Georgian Residents: Struggling to Find Work and Rebuild

This posting was provided by JAFI

Tuvia and her family of 24 people left Gori for Tbilisi the day after the Georgia-Russia conflict erupted on August 7. For over two weeks, they stayed with distant relatives living in the capital—30 people living in one tiny apartment. Most of the guests, including 71-year-old Tuvia, slept on the floor.

The family has since returned to Gori, but today they face a much bleaker reality than before. Tuvia’s husband, who has diabetes and is in poor health, has a pension which barely covers the costs of his monthly medications. The bank loan that a few months ago was a lifeline for the family is now a mounting burden as Tuvia’s sons—the family’s main wage earners—remain out of work and the debt increases.

When Tuvia’s family returned to their home, they were among the fortunate ones: their homes were not looted. But they have been robbed of their livelihoods and lifestyle. The family has been surviving on relief provided during the war by JDC and on the small funds they earn by selling their furniture for food. Because of the poor relations between the countries, Tuvia’s son who had been working in Moscow, and who was in Georgia on holiday when the war broke out, has been unable to return to his job in Russia; her other son lost his job during the war. Neither man has been able to find new work in Georgia.

To help cope with their new situation, Tuvia’s family receives monthly assistance through JDC’s Food Card, a debit-like card which enables vulnerable elderly and their families to purchase much-needed foods from the local supermarket. Since the war erupted, the program has been expanding to purchase additional items such as hygienic products and basic needs. As the seasons change, the family will also receive winter relief packages.

Tuvia’s family registered as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) with all the relevant authorities when the war broke out. But the distribution of rations lagged behind. Assistance from JDC through the local Hesed welfare center was the only source of aid to Tuvia’s family. "Without them, I am sure we would have died!" she said.

As the family struggles to readjust at home, they are particularly worried about how they will fare in the upcoming harsh winter. Energy prices are set to rise and Tuvia knows from previous experience that her pension may only cover the electricity bill for winter. Missing even one day’s payment means their power will be cut off, no questions asked. And that is something this struggling family certainly cannot afford to endure during Georgia’s bitter cold winter.

JDC will continue to provide the victims of this war with basic needs and help families like Tuvia’s get back on track.