Voices from the edge

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  • 1. Georgia Voices from the Edge 2011 , !We are Born Different but Equal!Our vision for every child, life in all its fullness; Our prayers for every heart, the will to make it so

2. Introduction , Few monthsago, Ive got an anonymous letter on the , . blog from my peer girl with disability. Her letter was very . .impressive and emotional. After reading her message, Ive started to reassess many things around me and have real- ized those problems persons with disabilities are facing in , our community. That moment was inspirational for me to , , collect real stories that would take us to the very heart of the profoundly personal struggles that inevitably arise in, - , 16 an individual effort to live with disability, says Ana Mkhat-.vari, 16 years old girl from Batumi. , In Georgia, a person is not "disabled" because he/she , cannot do something like "others," but because the society, . perceives him/her as "disabled" or invalid (implying not , valid!) person. Nowadays, it is evident that the main ne- cessity in Georgia is to foster positive attitudinal shift to- .ward disability and inclusion. The major goal of Anas project Future for Future is to - ,depict the lives of persons with disabilities, the struggle for self-realization and their fight against existing stigma of , the society by demonstrating each and every day that they are normal people - just like us! , .Rusudan Chanturia Manager of the Youth Civic Education and CommunityWorld Vision Participation Project at World Vision International in Georgia 3. CE AN PTCE AC I am writing this letter to my peer girl. I dont know her first or last name. I was just enchanted by her , eyes since they did not gaze at me with compassion , . or pity. I want to tell her that I love new dresses, I, often try to have new hairstyle. , , But I dont know what does it mean to run wearing... , new dress, I cannot swing in front of mirror, no one , would never tell me - be careful while walking in , the rain, dont jump into the puddle I sit in the wheelchair I hate when people express pity to my , mother.. I am labeled disabled. Though, from the bottom of . , my heart, I want to surmount this constrained envi- ronment, cross this border and just BE with you. . Please, accept me the way I am! ! 4. 18 , IMegi was just 18 days old when doctors .diagnosed her with several disabilities. I did not have any inferiority complex and went .to school for a while. I am a beneficiary of theU 4 Child Center 4 years already., .Despite everything, I am trying to study andadvance my knowledge. , I also intensely use social networks; have lots , of friends and still fight to find my place in this ".society.t know Self-reliance 5. Zviad was 8 years old when he was injured in the car accident and doctors were forced to amputate his leg. At first, he evaded to be actively engaged in the societal life of the country. After several years though he reassessed his situation, changed attitudes and became willing to be an active member of the society. 8 , I am 23 years old already, live with healthy lifestyle, study at Georgian Technical University . , and try to be keenly involved in the life of the so- ciety I live in. My future plans are related to the., support of children with disabilities in Georgia. . 23 , , .Att itudin al Shift . 6. Pur suitof Happ ines sAna is 8 years old. She cannot walk anduses wheelchair.She is very communicative, does not haveinferiority complex, makes lots of friends andis easily adaptable to the environment. Shethinks that all these are true due to the efforts 8 . ,of her parents, the society she lives in and .her teachers. Her dream is to become ateacher and help her peers. ,Ana is HAPPY! , , , , . . A ! 7. 71 . . 3 , . , , . Ketevan is 71 years woman living in the Shelter for Eld- erly People. Shes not been able to take care of herself already for several years. She has 3 children, though.none of them expressed willingness to look after the mother. Despite this, Ketevan is still happy that the RE CA state could allocate enough funds to take care of her. She dreams of Georgia being strong and rich country so that the state cares even more for elderly people. 68 . . , Lili is 68 years old. She has been attached to wheel- chair already for years for now. After her daughter . passed away, her grandchildren took her to the Shelter, for Elderly People. , - She wishes that everyone has happy and healthy old age. If I could have walked maybe I would have been 68 . able to stay with my family. Now, I am isolated and alien- ated from my beloved ones, says 68 years old Lili with disappointment. 8. , . , G , , . , . , , . , , , . Alexander was alienated from the society when he was still strong and active. Similar to many his peers, he lost his job, family and abil- ity to fight against existing challenges. That was followed by a serious trauma that forced Opportunity him to be immobilized in the wheelchair. To- day, while looking back to his life, he regrets that he was not able to do anything vital and achieve his goals. Now, however, he pursues toward self-realization, learns how to play the guitar and firmly believes that its never too late to make dreams come true. 9. 10 . RT . PO . M .SUP ? , ... .Beka is 10 years old. He has speech problems and has some physical disabilities aswell. He is an extremely affable child. He knows very well what it means when some-thing hurts you. You know what my friend Irakli taught me? You have to answer warmth with affection, feel others pain and... if you are strong enough help someone else who needs yoursupport. 10. . 6 . , . . . . . , . , . , . Elene was still a baby when she was diagnosed with a severe disease. Atthe age of 6, doctors found out that she had another health problem. WhileS being at school, she often felt sick that made her friend and teachers TIEfrightened. She decided to quit from going to school. Now, no one would Y M IL be scared because of her sickness. Her only friend is her mother. Elene isFAgood at painting. She still tries to pursue her study and believes thatfriendly and supportive family is the most important for children with dis-abilities. She dreams that our country could provide such families with fi-nancial support. 11. . 11 , . . 1975 , . , , - . . . , . , .INTEGRATION Gocha just was born this way. At the age of 11, he already realized that he was different and could not makebig difference in this regard. Therefore, he decided to pursue self-education and find his place in the society.Back in 1975, he established an organization that fostered integration of persons with disabilities into the so-ciety. From my experience, I can say that I do not see substantial changes toward me and people like me, -says Gocha. For several years, he was trying to find donors and attract funds. He became a member of theParliament. At this point, he still believes that civil society can do a lot for people with disabilities. He dreamsof establishing an organization that would further support persons with disabilities in Georgia. 12. The stories are collected by 11th grade student of11- WorldBatumi School Gorda Ana Mkhatvari for the YouthVision Civic Education and Community Participation Project (YCECP) of World Vision International in .Georgia. The project is implemented with the financial support, of UNDP Georgia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of World Vision . Romania and World Vision Austria.: , , .Note: The photos used in the publication are not of the people the stories have been collected but from the YCECP project activities.