Marika Kavtaradze, Khada Valley, the village of Tskere

“I finished school with honors and enrolled in a medical university. I was eager to keep working in this field. Then I got married, had children and was unable to continue my studies. I have seven children, the eldest is 17, and the youngest is only 9 months old. As we do not have a kindergarten in Khada Valley, I had to raise my kids alone and when they reached the school age, we had to move to the village of Kvesheti, because there hasn’t been a school in the Khada Valley for a long time. We are currently leading a nomadic life: as soon as September arrives, we go to Kvesheti, where there is a school, but no kindergarten. In May, we return to Tskere. We own lands here and cultivate it to grow year-round food for the family. The “Mountain Law” did not apply to us, and we are paying the gas bill fully. We were told that we were not subject to the benefits because we are not permanently living in Tskere. What can we do? There is no school here, and in winter 10 km distance in the mountains will be next to impossible for the children to cover. Those who had enough means, took their children away to give them education. The village has emptied… The government has assigned us the status of a socially vulnerable family and we receive 60 laris per child. This is all our income. That is why, sometimes I cannot send the children to school so that we can go up to Tskere and take care of our cattle, vegetable garden and secure enough food for the children.”