Shorena Kravelidze, 40, Marneuli

„I was born with a spinal hernia and underwent surgery when I was one-year old. I had been developing normally before the surgery. I moved my legs. However, after an improper surgical intervention they told my parents that the surgery was not successful. Had this happened currently the doctors would have had to answer for what they did because I was able to move extremities, I could stand on me feet, but they ruined all my life!

I grew up in Sachkhere, I lived there for 17 years. I did not go to school but my classmates invited me everywhere, whether that was a school graduation party or some other event. We were together all the time and I got used to doing things together with them. But during the school years the teacher visited me home and I did not go to school, for which I was downhearted and unwilling to study. One and the same thing every day – you sit alone, the teacher comes and that happens over and over again. Therefore, I was not interested in studying.

When I arrived here, everyone looked at me in astonishment. I felt rather uncomfortable, which made me shut myself in my house. I did not go out. When I arrived here I was 17. This is the age of flirting with guys; they liked me when they saw me in the window or balcony until they met me in the street. I remember, there was one boy who did not know my condition. He used to come and stand in front of my house. He liked me and courted me from distance. But as soon as he saw me in the street he disappeared from my life. I have had a lot of such cases.

Feeling depressed because of not having any opportunity to study I had stayed home for years. I always wanted to study but did not have a chance. But I was given that chance when the project supported by the Ministry of Education was launched. Now I am studying an office-manager’s profession at a vocational school. Transportation costs are also financed. A vehicle takes me to Marneuli and back.

When I started studying, they told us that we were supposed to retell lessons. I found that rather difficult. My current teacher Shorena Latsabidze, who is a rather good teacher, told me that she understood my condition. As I did not attend school together with my peers I would gradually get used to the practice. So I have gradually become interested in retelling lessons, like other students do.
I have always wanted to be an active person. I had worked in a newspaper kiosk for eight years until I decided to study. But I wanted to have more progress in my life. I do not see any limitations in me. Maybe someone who looks at me feels that but I myself do not notice that because I do everything independently.

I used to travel alone to Tbilisi until they provided a vehicle for me. Sometimes I got there by taxi and by mini-bus at other times. I do everything independently at home. Sometimes taxi drivers would look at me so strangely but I do not pay any attention to that any more. I consider myself an ordinary person. I never went out until I started working. I lived on the fourth floor and I did not go out for months. I just looked out of the window. I felt rather bad.

I have small nephews home and they brighten up my life. I also want to have my own family very much. I had met some people on the internet and we even started courting each other but as soon as they learned that I am in the wheelchair they disappeared. My goal is to have my job, my own car to be able to live independently. Everyone is good, but ultimately a person should have his/her own life… Let us see what the future holds for us. If I manage to turn around my life and be successful, everything will be like I want it to be.

I love my parents and my siblings very much, but sometimes I think that I do not want to have such life any more. I even thought about suicide but I did not do that because of my parents. I thought that they would not be able to get over it, which stopped me. Then I started working. I decided to start working and go out. It dreamt about working for 112 (The 112 Georgia Emergency and Operative Response Center). My friends told me that I could not work there unless I had a diploma. So I decided to study. I attended training courses financed by the Tbilisi City Hall, where I met with Mariam Chikaidze, head of 112. During the ceremony of handing over the certificates, this lady came to me and told me that she wanted to hire me for 112.

In the first place I want to have a job very much. Moreover, I would like to take a driver’s license. My school offers such opportunity. They also brought some vehicles at the school. When I get the driver’s license and have a job, I would like to found an NGO, morally support people with disabilities and tell them that there are no such things as disabilities. For me personally, there are no disabilities, because I am a strong person and would like to make strong everyone. When I face some problem, I handle that problem but there are PWDs, who stop and think that “I cannot make any progress because of my disability“. But it is not always like that. People face obstacles but they should keep going. Unfortunately, people become disheartened and desperate. Neither my family nor my relatives make me feel that I am any different from them, which is probably the reason that I am strong. The “so poor” attitude pulls you back and makes you feel depressed.

I will exert every effort to turn around my life, become successful and help others as well. If I have an opportunity to found an organization, I would actually help people who are in need of support rather than focus on earning money from the organization. Sorry to say that but you will not be able to understand a person in a wheelchair better than I can. For example, there is one visually impaired boy studying together with me and I can understand those people who sit in wheelchairs better than visually impaired persons. That guy says that he wants to have a pension of 800 GEL. I told him that he should not make such a request because they will not satisfy it and at the same time he will miss a real opportunity. I advised him to demand jobs for visually impaired people instead to give them an opportunity to go out and work. I would refuse if they told me, “Shorena stay home and we will give you an 800-GEL pension. I would prefer instead to have a job paying 500 GEL with an adapted environment, where I would be able to demonstrate my skills and get a salary for working rather than sit home and take an 800-GEL pension. I would like to have a sense of accomplishment, invest my energy and efforts and get a salary for that.
When I first started studying, there was no vehicle available for me and my brother, who works in Tbilisi, used to give me a ride. He would drop me off at the school, then I got to Samgori by taxi and took a mini-bus to my house. I suffered this way for one month and a half. After I had exhausted my finances I applied to the director, who provided a room for me in the school. I lived there for one month and a half. I had to go through difficulties but I grinned and bore it in order to study and achieve something.

I started working as an intern in the Marneuli executive administration (Gamgeoba). I am performing administrative duties. I was accepted rather well by everyone. Gamgebeli (head of the executive administration) is rather attentive.

After sitting home and feeling hopeless for many years I feel now that I am an ordinary person, capable of doing everything. I would like to help those PWDs who are now staying home disillusioned and downhearted feel in the same way. When I have a car I want to drive them to a park, the zoo, take them out at least once a month and brighten up their life. I would like to urge those organizations that work for PWDs to work with enthusiasm and love their job. As for PWDs, I would tell them, “Remember the period when you set home, felt disheartened, disillusioned, were badly off and could not go out”. I always say that if I reach success I will not forget the things I had to go through and will necessarily keep my promises if I made any. It is cruel when you make a person hopeful, give him/her a consent and then disappoint him/her. Currently Mariam Chikaidze is a very big hope for me because she offered me the job herself. When she made a job offer I “flied” like a bird. I hope that she will not disappoint me.

I would like to thank all the people working at Spectrum College – the guard, teachers, cleaners and the head of the college – through your webpage. They are rather warm and attentive people. When I came there first, I wanted to study but I was not sure I would be able to. However, I did that because Mr. Mate Takidze, the head of the college, is an extremely kind and good person. He is my friend, who has helped me take many steps.“