Meri Lezhava, 98, Tbilisi

„I was 24 when I was summoned by the commissariat during the World War Two. Our regiment was taken to Ukraine. But we had to stay there for only two or three days. I was a doctor-stomatologist. They registered us and told us that they would send us back to Georgia. I was rather happy, of course, what could have been better?! After returning back I worked in the local security regiment, which had three physicians – a surgeon, therapeutist and a doctor-stomatologist. We were always ready to help military servicemen if they needed our help. I worked in the regiment for 2 years but I was lucky to serve in the places where there were not active hostilities.

I was young and I could not realize what the war was as I understand now. So I did not worry much. When I was taken to Ukraine my mother got crazy but I did not feel like that. A child is always special for mother. Mothers worry more than children. When I got back to Georgia she was so happy that she could fly.
Before I was taken to the war I worked in Pasanauri. The road was always overloaded by military vehicles full of soldiers going to the war. They often stopped at our medical aid post to get different help. I remember one case, a young soldier fell ill. Our doctor did not let him go, saying that he would die on the road. He advised to leave him and promised to let him go on the following day. Indeed, he was picked up next day, when he already felt better.

Wounded soldiers were seldom brought to our regiment. However, we had to be on duty and ready for emergency all the time. Nobody knew, they could bomb Tbilisi as well and we could be called. We were always ready. However, sometimes the whole day would pass and we did not have to do anything. At other times they would call me at 2 a. m. for example, to a soldier with a broken leg, so I had to go and provide treatment on the spot.

I did not know initially that this was a moving regiment, which moved from place to place. So it was moved to Armenia. My mother was also a doctor and managed to leave me in Georgia through her acquaintances. So I stayed in Georgia. Soon the war was also over. The news was met with cheers of joy. I left the regiment and started working at School #53 as a doctor. I worked there until retirement. You have to have good sight to work in the mouth cavity, so when I reached the retirement age I left the school.

I lived through the war but had never seen the poverty I see know. For example, take my family. I am really badly off. I applied for the identification of the poverty line. The woman, the evaluator, ridiculed me, she asked, “How many candles this ceiling lamp has?” She looked around and said it would be good to live here. I think she was laughing at me.

As a veteran of the World War Two I have some support from the state from time to time. They congratulated me on May 9. Last year, the chairman of the Union of Veterans personally congratulated me. They had published some book “Georgia” and he brought this book to me as a present. When Saakashvili came to power, they gave me 200 GEL every 9 May. Since the government changed, I have been given a 1000 GEL allowance once. This year the executive administration of the city (Gamgeoba) also remembered me and sent me some presents. No one else remembered me. I do not have any special pension as a war veteran, I have the same amount as others have. But they give me 22 GEL for gas and 22 GEL for electricity bills. I have to pay 120 GEL bill for this gas heater rather than 22 GEL. How am I supposed to pay this amount, my dear?

Every year on 9 May we gather in Victory Park. Sometimes my daughter-in-law accompanies me because I am already afraid to go out alone. I often hear that seeing an elderly person walking alone in the street people make comments like, “Why on Earth is s/he alone in the street, does not s/he have anyone to take care of her?!” I do not want someone to address me like that, it is rather difficult to hear that. So I avoid walking alone in the street.

I have age-related hearing problems. I have been waiting for the Ministry of Health to give me a deaf-aid for two years but in-vain. As a World War Two veteran I am supposed to receive it free of charge. I have also applied to the local executive administration but so far I have not got it.“