Nunu Beria, 80, Telavi

“I have loved making dolls since childhood. I am from Zestaponi. When we went to the countryside on holidays, I would make dolls of corn stalk. We would then make dresses for it and play. There was no TV and radio, we had to somehow entertain ourselves. Then I went back to school, grew up and stopped doing it. After that, I had a family, children, and of course barely any free time. But when my grandchild was born, I decided to make dolls for her. She was not particularly interested but I still kept doing it. The first ones were not very pretty but my skills got better. Now I love making them so much and they seem so nice to me that I will never be able to stop. This work soothes and calms me. I sew every day, even at night I think about dolls… I am very grateful to tailors because they give me fabric remnants that they don’t need any more. I bring joy to myself and to those people who buy these toys. I think everybody in Telavi has my dolls. Sometimes I go to shops or organizations and ask if I can show them my dolls. Some refuse, but then they are so surprised that they buy a few at a time. It encourages me a lot. Some of my dolls are so beautiful that I cannot part with them… Even if I wanted to, I could not make two identical dolls. Each of them is unique and besides, I am getting better at it. I have created up to 500 dolls. I work with the material I happen to have and match the colors. When I’m done, they are so cute that I have a feeling that I’m holding a living being in my hands. What else am I supposed to do at the age of 80? I cannot sit idle, can I? So I keep myself busy with this work and enjoy myself.

What I did before? From Zestaponi I went to Tbilisi, graduated from a medical college and worked as a nurse in a clinic for 35 years. I met my husband in a bakery. It was like love at first sight. He courted me for 6 years, then he was recruited to army and when he was back, he visited me in Zestaponi and married me.

I would have more enthusiasm if I sold more, of course. In Georgia, pensioners don’t have it easy – the pension is not enough for medications, firewood costs 300 rubles and we need to get it twice per season. I borrow money to buy firewood and then pay by installments. Half of my pension is spent on taxes. One also needs to live, the brain is still young and craves thousands of things. While pension cannot cover my costs, my dolls help me a lot. What I mean is that I am not well off. If only I had any allowance, for instance if they had benefits for people over 80, like me, or we had to pay less utilities… We don’t even have social allowance. I don’t know what they saw in my house to think I don’t need any allowance – the washing machine was bought by my child, and fridge and TV are out of work. Social service office is far and it is difficult for me to get there. They will then come, check and disappear again. I gave up.

What makes everything worse, the environment is not adapted for an elderly person to go out. I have seen men sitting and playing or chatting, but there is nothing for women. For instance, if I could share my hobby with others, in a place like a club, it would be great. Seniors should not be isolated from life, they should have fun and feel that they are still alive and can do something creative. Don’t you agree?! And I am eager to be taught and advised. It makes time go fast and stops you from overthinking about life and death. Good thing, I am not a pessimist and I try to encourage myself.”