For Active Ageing in Georgia

1 October 2018
Zizo Mateshvili, 88. Tsnori, Kakheti Region. Photo by: UNFPA/Dina Oganova

Zizo Mateshvili, 88 years old, is one of the first persons who got enrolled in computer courses organized for the local elderlies by the young founders of Knowledge Café in Tsnori. It was her grandchildren who advised her to acquire some new knowledge. Zizo Mateshvili hopes that the computer skills will help her to communicate with her grandchildren who live far away from her.

There are seven more elderly individuals registered to attend these courses together with Zizo Mateshvili in Tsnori starting from October 2018. Computer courses is  just one part of the initiative that young activists are implementing for promoting Active Ageing in two regions of Georgia – Kakheti and Samegrelo, with the assistance of the UNFPA Georgia Country Office. The pilot project, which was launched in June 2018, has united more than 50 elderly people.

It was the youth who set up the friendly environment to support the resocialization and Active Ageing of the elderly in Kakheti and Samegrelo. The project participants are hosted by social cafés arranged by the youth at both locations – Knowledge Café (Tsnori, Kakheti Region), and Mego-BAR (Zugdidi, Samegrelo Region). The project aims at building the skills among the elderly and supporting their engagement in social and cultural activities; it is based on the dialogue between generations, sharing knowledge and experience, and mutual respect. Founders of the Knowledge Café managed to mobilize additional resources, managed to involve representatives of public and private sectors and organized a wonderful day in Tbilisi for elderlies from Tsnori, thus advocating for Active Ageing.

Dinara Kakabadze, 69 years old, with her granddaughter. Zugdidi, Samegrelo.
Photo by: UNFPA/Dina Oganova

Dinara Kakabadze (69 years old) from Zugdidi is visiting the Mego-BAR together with her granddaughter. “There is neither movie theater, nor drama theater in Zugdidi. This project let me go out of my house. People of the same generation got acquainted with each other. Now we get together, watch movies. Nowadays, we rarely see smiling faces, but here everybody meets us with a smile.“

Nazi Sephiskveradze, 66 years old. Tsnori, Kakheti.
Photo by: UNFPA/Dina Oganova

„They created a very pleasant atmosphere here. It is a great joy for me to come here. People of the same age get together here and communicate to each other: we speak about our joys and sorrows, and can get new information and knowledge. When I was young and heard someone mentioning a “pensioner”, I would imagine a very old person. But now I know that the pensioners also need to learn new things“. – says Nazi Sephiskveradze, 66 years old, who has been actively involved in the activities organized by the Knowledge Café.

Julietta Chkhetiani, 61 years old. Tsnori, Kakheti.
Photo by: UNFPA/Dina Oganova

Knowledge and experience acquired within the frameworks of the project, discovery of like-minded individuals and supporters, was especially encouraging for the elderly people in Tsnori. They founded an Association of Pensioners with the aim to help other local elderlies that are in more need of help.  At first stage they studied the needs of less active elderly people in the neighborhood in order to assess how they could provide support to them. Julietta Chkhetiani, aged 61 is one of those who coordinates the activities of a newly established association. She is an IDP. She had to leave her native Abkhazia 25 years ago because of war, and to start a new life in Tsnori. Julietta recalls that not only her relatives, but also the absolutely unknown people were supporting her, and she considers that now the time has come for her to assist those who needs it most. “I was always concerned about how many elderly people do not go out, how many of them do not have an opportunity to lead an active life. The association members decided to reach out to them at their homes, and to do everything we can for those who are in need”.

Advocacy and promotion of Active Ageing is one of the priority issues for UNFPA Georgia. According to Lela Bakradze, head of the UNFPA Georgia Country Office, “the Active Ageing is a policy approach, that supports growing older in good health and as a full member of society, feeling more fulfilled in jobs and in social engagements, more independent in the daily lives and more engaged as citizens. This can only be achieved if state policy is applied at the national, local, and community level, and should involve policy measures such as increasing financial security, promoting age-friendly infrastructures and weaving these ideas into the social fabric of the society”. It is essential to make health system more suitable for elderlies - supporting active Ageing approach. Local aged population of Tsnori and Zugdidi find such environments at social cafés- “Knowledge Café and “MegoBAR”.

Taliko Januashvili-Kakulia, 86 years old. Zugdidi, Samegrelo.
Photo by: UNFPA/Dina Oganova

The elderly people not only learn, but also teach at the Knowledge Café and Mego-BAR. They share their knowledge to young people about local cuisine and handicraft secrets. The project mastermind youngsters and participating elderlies have many joint plans. Taliko Januashvili-Kakulia (aged 86) from Zugdidi is saying that she would be happy to participate in dance evenings, if she had a chance. As for the members of Tsnori Association of Pensioners, very soon they plan to go to Tbilisi to attend the theater performance.

And all this is just the beginning.