Melano Tsitsilashvili, the village of Merjevi, Sachkhere municipality
“I have been working as a teacher at school in Merjevi since 2000, which is a 17-year experience. I teach physics and mathematics. In 2014, I was elected a majoritarian deputy in the elections of the local self-government. I was the only woman among 12 candidates.
My victory was a result of many factors, with my family playing the biggest role. My husband’s grandparents were well-respected teachers. My father-in-law worked as the principal of the Chorvila public school for 36 years. My mother-in-law is still teaching there. All the members of my family are teachers and we have a strong connection with the community. That is why, it has played a decisive role. Another reason was my personality. My former students stood by me and we worked as one team. During the pre-election period, I tried to avoid confrontation with my competitors. If you decide to get into politics, you have a much bigger obligation of tolerance, this obligation is number one, and also, obviously, there is honesty. I was honest with my voters. I walked around the village to meet them in person.
The village consists of 1,300 households. I went to each of them personally; however I did not ask them to vote for me. “Make the right choice” – this was my message to every voter.
There are a few reasons why I decided to get into politics. The first and foremost being the fact that the village did not have water pipeline, a sewerage system, a road, or a kindergarten. The women living in the community were especially hit by these problems. I thought that with the support of my community, I would be able to solve them. I had to be the initiator of such a solution and I relied on my community’s unanimity and support.
The community is divided in two villages: Merjevi and Ivantsminda. The village of Ivantsminda did not have water. As soon as the elections were over and I was elected a majoritarian, I started to fight for solving this problem. The village was to be supplied with water! We finally made it! We got funds allocated from the local budget and the problem of water supply was solved that year.
Simultaneously, we started to take steps regarding the kindergarten. In both villages of the community, construction of kindergartens had started in the 90s, but they were not completed. We had to overcome many challenges to bring the construction in Ivantsminda to an end. Today, we have a kindergarten that meets the European standards.
Another challenge is to complete the kindergarten in Merjevi. Its area has been turned into a dumping site, which is hazardous. It has to be either dismantled or rebuilt. My purpose is to build a kindergarten for the children of Merjevi.
The second most challenging issue has been the road. The community does not have a proper road to connect it to the region. We suggested building an alternative road to the municipality. It was accepted and a tender was announced. The designing stage is over, the expertise has been held and currently, negotiations are underway with funds on financing it. We are talking about a 7-kilometer section, requiring three million seven hundred thousand lari.
As of now, the issues of a kindergarten in Merjevi and the sewerage system remain unsolved. Sewerage system is an extravagance for a village, but you know how necessary it is to prevent pollution.
There are 2 women and 11 men in the Sakrebulo (Assembly) at the moment. When I found myself in a new environment, it took me some time to adapt, obviously. Quite soon, I realized how to approach different people, if they had “a weak point” that I could use in favor of my community. I would repay them with my support when they were in need. I am talking about the majoritarian deputies. My community alone cannot improve the overall situation in the region, and the representatives of other communities need support to solve their problems likewise.
I established my reputation by working diligently. Before I initiate a proposal, I do my research and study the issue in-depth. Otherwise, my proposal will not be accepted, no-one will even listen to me. For instance, when I proposed financing the kindergarten, I had done all the cost accounting with the help of specialists; I knew where we might have a gap, when I would need to seek for additional funds, etc.
As soon as I decided to participate in the elections, I asked my friends: “What should I do? Is my decision right? What do you think are my strengths and weaknesses?” Before you actually take a step, you have to determine your and the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, your “weight” in the society. A well done analysis allows you to make proper decisions and not to set unrealistic expectations. Even though my team is quite strong, I have never celebrated victory prematurely. I have always been ready for everything and struggled till the very end.
In October, there will be local self-government elections again. I will participate by all means. I still have issues to be solved for the community. I am going to run for a majoritarian again. I am sure that if I want to do something for my community, I can do it best as a majoritarian. My responsibility as a member of a party differs from my responsibility as an individual.”
(Author: Nino Gamisonia)