Maia Kartsivadze, 40, Kobuleti (our respondent, Ana Kenchadze’s mother)

„I was 27 when my neighbor killed my husband in a brawl between neighbors. I was left with my two minor children, 1-year-old Ana and 6-year-old Mariam. I also had sick and bedridden mother-in-law and father-in-law. I was the only bread-winner and had to take care of the whole family. In that period the children got orphan’s pension – 14 GEL each. I used the pensions of my mother-in-law and father-in-law to buy their medicines, while the children’s pension was hardly enough to meet our simplest needs.

I had cows, who gave a lot of milk. I tried to sell the milk to a nearby store and increase my family income. The owner of the store used to help me. He let me buy products on debt and pay whenever I had money. I remember, Ana was too young to take her to the kindergarten and I did not have anyone to leave the kid with because I had to milk the cow in the morning and take it out to pasture. So I would put the baby in the basket for laundry and take her to the cattle-shed. Then with the basket on my shoulders I would take the cow 3 kilometers away so that she could not get to Kobuleti, for which I would be fined.

When the seniors died, I realized that I was absolutely alone in life. Was I not alone when they were alive?! Yes, I was, but I was so busy doing things from morning till night that I did not have any time to think about that. I do not have time to be afraid now, because I think that the only thing I can do for my children is to give them a good education. They need education not to suffer like me.

When children grew up, their pension increased and we received 100 GEL. But Mariam stopped receiving the pension as soon as she came of age. She is now a student, she is studying in Tbilisi and our family expenses have grown – tuition fees, the rent, pocket money… Sometimes I think that some unseen forces help me and when I fall into extreme despair I see some light at the end of the tunnel.

For the past several years I have worked as a cleaner at the Wissol gasoline station, which is located near my house. I have a flexible schedule and it is rather comfortable because I go there whenever needed. I get 300 GEL. For the rest of the time I can do household chores. I am good at baking and accept orders for Adjarian Baklava. I had an old stove and could not make good cakes. But I have recently taken part in the EU project announced by the association Living Old Age with Dignity. I attended a 2-day training course in writing a business plan and got 1000 GEL funding to buy a modern stove and other technical equipment. I accept orders for Baklava almost every week and this helps me a lot financially. I wish I could have had this opportunity before or had gotten some help from the state to launch my own business.

I am as happy as my kid when summer comes. She likes summer because she will have more fun. As for me, I am happy because I will be able to rent rooms to holiday-makers and thus receive more income. I do not have good conditions, so I rent one bad for 10-15 GEL and I save the cash to pay the rent for Mariam’s apartment in Tbilisi. Whenever I need, I take out a quick loan, or pawn golden items to avoid crisis during the year. There is nobody around to help me to deal with the problems.

It is not true when they say about women that they are weak. No man would have been able to endure so much work and psychological pressure.“