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Home » Publications » Newsmail » News from MOs » Florian and Martijn in Georgia for Job Shadowing

Florian and Martijn in Georgia for Job Shadowing

02/07/2014

Florian Müller and Martijn Bergsma from Holland were in Gori, Georgia, for three weeks. They were there on behalf of the Dutch organization JUB, to learn from the Georgian organization Qartlosi. During their time they wanted to find out what projects the volunteers of this organization are working on and what methods they use. In the end, the aim is to develop new projects together. Martijn and Florian were already one time before in Georgia, for a training they organized together with Qartlosi. Below you can find a report about what they experienced in their first days. It starts with some information on the region and the organization, Qartlosi.In case you are also interested in setting up a Job Shadowing project you could apply for funding via Erasmus Plus. If you have questions, Martijn would be glad to help (martijn@jubinternational.org).

Qartlosi (http://qartlosi.org) is founded in 2006. The name is combination between Kartl, which ‘Georgian’ means, and ‘Osi’, which refers to Ossetia. Since the 2008 war it is not possible anymore to go to South Ossetia for Georgian people. Families are divided, people cannot return to their homes and regional trade centers are blocked. Qartlosi supports the development of regional communities and it supports a dialogue between the communities who are divided since the conflict.

In these three weeks we were in Gori, we did a lot of things: we helped with a local youth empowerment project, we put a piece of art in a park, we helped with art classes, we visited a democracy simulation, we went on a field trip to the border zone, we joined a protest, we visited Qartlosi’s Mediation Centre, we organized a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop, we shared information on Erasmus Plus and we developed new project ideas. Below more details for each activity!

  • One of Qartlosi’s ongoing projects is called Eco Schools. It is a competition between eight schools in the region to come up with the best project idea to improve the local public space. The winning project will be granted modest funding to execute their plan. We visited two of the schools, one in Nikozi and the other one in Ergneti, where the Qartlosi volunteers discussed the project proposals with the school children and their designated trainers.

  • Later in the week, we visited another local Qartlosi project, run by Hungarian volunteer Peter. Being an artist in daily life, Peter gives artistic lessons to children with disabilities. We joined him in preparing and giving an abstract painting class at the local daycare centre for disabled children in Gori. The children were very happy to see Peter and displayed a lot of enthusiasm creating abstract pieces of art, using water paint. We assisted him and were impressed with the positive attitude and good behavior of the children, as well as with Peter’s ability to communicate with them so well, in spite of the language barrier.

  • Together with workers from Qartlosi we put a big chalk blackboard in the park in front of the theatre in Gori. The board reads: ‘before I die, I want to ...’. People visiting the park can finish the sentence. Some interesting words came up, like “… to see peace with Russia” or “… to go to America”. The front is in Georgian and the back is in English. We believe this ‘piece of art’ gives a nice overview of the wishes and dreams of ordinary people from Gori.

  • At Gori State University we visited an event to raise awareness for the upcoming municipal elections in June 15th. The event was organized by the NGO Centre for Democratic Development, which had created a simulated polling station and was providing people with information about the voting process. To assure a good turnout, the event was closed with a concert by three young Georgian folk singers. 

  • Later in the second week, we met Canadian journalist Heather Yundt (www.heatheryundt.ca). She invited us to join her on a trip to the border with South Ossetia. Heather had called on Qartlosi to help with the logistics, because of their expertise in working with this area. Upon arriving in the small village of Kirbali, Heather interviewed a couple of locals about the effect the 2008 war had on their personal lives. An woman of approximately 60 years old spoke about how her son in law ended up on the wrong side of the border after the 2008 war. Since it is strictly prohibited for Georgians to cross this border, they had not seen him for the last six years, even though he is just a couple of kilometers away. By presenting this and other stories in an online multimedia format, Heather hopes to raise awareness of the situation of the people in this region. It is not easy: according to her, many people in Canada don’t even know a country like Georgia exists.  

  • Qartlosi organized a protest to ask attention for violence against women. More than 100 people came to the protest, with banners, saying “we want to feel safe in our town”, and “truth and justice”, amongst others. There were four television teams from Tbilisi and 2 from Gori, next to several newspaper journalists. The direct cause to organize the protest was the news of a 14-year old girl that showed a lot of signs of being raped, but even before conducting a proper investigation, the police called it a suicide attempt. The girl is alive, but she laid with broken legs and bruises in the hospital. Another reason was that in the last two months 14 women were killed in Georgia by their husbands. In general, many women in Georgia are tired of men’s behavior towards women: sexual harassment happens frequently. Hopefully this protest will be a small contribution towards raising awareness of this problem.

  • In cooperation with program coordinator Lali we organized a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop in Gori for local youth. The topic we chose here was man/woman stereotypes. The participants came up for example with a story about taxi drivers: in Georgia it is not so accepted that women drive a taxi. After the play ends with a problem (in this case the female taxi driver was being harassed by a police officer), the audience is asked to come up with alternative actions to change the outcome. What happens then is an improvised discussion. On the pictures you see our preparation with several short games, the preparation of the story, and the theatre itself. Theatre of the Oppressed was invented by the Brazilian activist Augusto Boal. Here is a nice video with more information about it: http://youtu.be/HOgv91qQyJc.

  • In the last week, Martijn gave a presentation about Erasmus Plus and Job Shadowing to the workers and volunteers of Qartlosi and a representative of another NGO in Gori. All were interested to organize future events within the Erasmus Plus framework, and because JUB has already some experience with it, we could share the information. New plans were created on the spot: for Qartlosi it would also be useful to do a Job Shadowing visit in the Netherlands.

We are currently in the last day and finishing up our work. But the project does actually not finish now: we will continue developing projects. We would like to thank Qartlosi for their endless hospitality and the friendly way they showed us around. We have learned a lot and hope to continue our fruitful cooperation in the future. DidiMadloba! Thank you very much!

 

Martijn Bergsma


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