Teona Babutsidze, 20, the village of Kvemo Achabeti/Tserovani and Salome Mindiashvili, 20, the village of Kemerti/Tserovani

„(Salome) We are internally displaced persons (IDP) and therefore considered as a vulnerable group. Here, in Tserovani, there were two non-government organizations (NGO), implementing various projects. It is fair to say that we started participating in different events since the winter of 2009. Teona and I took English lessons from a private tutor together and I remember her saying she did not understand why people got themselves busy besides school. She was the most inert person I’d ever met, however, over time, she changed so much that she was the one bringing new project ideas to the table.

(Teona) I’m trying to remember what caused this change but can’t. I think I must have gone through certain stages in life to realize the uselessness of lethargy and to do better to receive more and diverse experience. Salome has always been my antipode. I would be immersed in books but she would be engaged in many other activities too.

Then, our paths crossed during one project. We were at the Diversity School organized by Iris Group and I think we made an excellent team because we worked very effectively with the children aged 5-6. We held a 10-day workshop for them. Salome had a little experience of working with children but for me it was a completely new target group.

(Salome) As a rule, when we find out that a program has been announced and we can apply, we try to take part in every competition. We cannot say that life in Tserovani is dull. Everyone tries to make the most of it but we have to do our best to make social life here more exciting. We try to engage ourselves in other activities besides the university and home and realize our abilities here, in Tserovani.

(Teona) We derive great pleasure from these projects because Salome and I work great together be it generation of ideas in various projects or discussing various topics. It was from Salome that I learnt most effectively how to deal with stressful situations. During the closure of one of the projects, I faced so many challenges that I was dazed and did nothing to solve them. But then Salome came to my aid and together we found the solution.

(Salome) I want to add on my part that working with Teona is very cool. I have no idea where she got her sense of responsibility. Even though she is super busy, studying at the law department and training at the lawyer’s office, if we plan something she will definitely do it.

We do everything voluntarily and we don’t get any payment for it. This is where I sometimes face serious challenges. I don’t really seek appreciation from others, but all I need is a little bit of understanding. If I do stuff for free, it means that non-material reward really matters for me, doesn’t it? They don’t get it and keep telling me: “Do you have so much free time on your hands?” Some joke that I am so used to being a volunteer that I may refuse a salary if I’m offered one. But no! You get a different kind of reward from the volunteering experience. And they wonder why I should be doing something for free and ask me: “Are you going to feed your children with your CV?”

(Teona) Our problems are similar in this regard because I do a lot of things out of sheer enthusiasm. I just want to do it, so I do it. I get asked all the time: “Don’t you want to think about earning something?” or “ How long are you going to be dependent on your family?” or “Are you going to feed you children with CV?” I think boys would not be able to avoid these questions either, but they are much less engaged in civil activism. They are interested in the activities that will earn them money. There actually are some boys in civil activism, but much fewer than girls. In every situation, I see girls being more active than boys, at least from my experience.

I am driven by the realization that Tserovani needs all kinds of new activities or else the life here will stagnate. Some time ago, my personal development was taken care of and now it’s my turn to take care of the future generation. I hang out with 15-16-year-old girls all the time. They are very interesting and cute but if they don’t have room for development they will not go through personal growth. And I don’t want that to happen.

(Salome) The girls of that age see and appreciate our support. They’ve even told us that we are their backbone. What we do motivates them, they start to think “If you can do it, we can do it too” and they feel they can take up various activities. This is the best social reward we can receive from the volunteering work.

(Teona) This time we are aiming at popularizing documentary films in Tserovani. We are local coordinators of CinéDoc here. In the near future, we are planning to show documentary films by Toma Chagelishvili.

(Salome) We have consulted with the representatives of CinéDoc about what films to show in Tserovani. There are films about the topics the society is not ready to accept yet. Some time needs to pass so that values are re-examined, because this is not about just showing the film, we want to film to resonate with them. So we prefer to focus on the social topics and challenges that people face locally.”

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