Marina Burduli, 34-year-old, Kvesheti

„I was 23. It happened exactly 12 years ago, on 7th of July. I left my 1 and 3-year-old girls with my mother and went to my brother-in-law’s wedding together with my husband. The driver was drunk. I do not remember the accident moment itself. The crash had been so severe my arm was torn off straight away. I was the only one injured in the car.

I was in a coma for 21 days. Having woken up, it took me quite long time to rehabilitate physically and psychologically, so I remained in the hospital for 3 months. Having been first told by the psychologist I’ve lost my arm, it wasn’t hard to accept it. The more time passed, the better I realized it would be very tough doing things with just one arm. However, I thought I could rely on my family as I used to get on with my sister- and mother-in-law as well. We were like sisters. They even come to the hospital to stand by me.

Nobody came the day I was discharged from the hospital, except for my parents. I was surprised but didn’t suspect any trouble. Only then when my parents brought me to my husband’s family in Martkhophi, I figured out everything. I found my mother-in-law gone to Greece and my husband he moved to Tbilisi and was renting a flat there. The house was empty. There was only my bed left. The only person met me at home was my father-in-law, who treated us with obvious hostility. It was then I realized nobody needed me without both arms. I always used to work hard, looking after cattle, house, yard – all these were on me. But as I became disabled, nobody needed me and turned their back on me. Yes, I stayed for a short while there, but as he (father-in-law) showed open hostility to us – didn’t allow to turn electricity and gas on, took TV away – shortly my parents took us to their home in Kvesheti.

My parents live in a two-room apartment together with my brother’s family. Since there was no room for us there, we temporarily live now at Kvesheti boarding school. We live in a room without gas and water supplies. They turned the electricity on after I pleaded for it.

So, I began bringing up my children alone. I was afraid I couldn’t handle things with just one hand, but as I tried once, everything went smoothly. Now I carry water from the schoolyard, do laundry, cooking and cleaning. Sometimes I even forget I don’t have an arm. Noticing someone staring at me, only then I get to remember.

My girls are 12- and 14 years old now. They help me, but it upsets them a lot that their father doesn’t care for them and hasn’t even visited for 12 years. The girls have called him a few times, asked him for dance classes fee, but he refused, to say nothing of their grandmother and aunt, who hasn’t even added the girls on Facebook, removed their requests and blocked them.

Our income is 300 GEL. I have disability pension of 100 GEL and social allowance of 200 GEL. The government presented us with washing machine, but having no running water, how can we use it?

I filed a complaint about alimony, and they’ve charged him (husband) with alimony of 60 GEL for each child. He used to pay for first two months, but after he stopped. Bailiff tells me he does not possess any property, so they can’t force him to pay. So, here we also are at a low ebb.

We, women, have very strong personalities. I wish I could raise my children and the strength I’ll find yet. Having done that much so far, I’m sure I’ll accomplish a lot more.

Author: Maiko Chitaia
Photo credit: Nina Baidauri
Translation: Nina Suramelashvili

26.03.2018 Author’s notice: After publishing the story, with the initiative of Kvesheti Gamgebeli and the school director Marina was allowed to install the water supply.