Ina from Ochamchire. She was 18 years old when her family arrived in...READ ON
Ina from Ochamchire. She was 18 years old when her family arrived in Tskaltubo. She was on the beach with her friends when they saw airplanes, then they heard the sound of gunfire. She did not know what was going on. At home she was told that the war had started. It was August 14th 1993. She fled with her sister to the lmereti region. However, since then she has returned to Ochamchire several times. Ina wanted to study nursing at Sokhumi University. After the fall of Sokhumi, they had to leave everything there. She recalls that when they arrived, they had nothing, neither a cup nor a fork. “My mother found a bottle outside, washed it well and put it on the table. She felt like now she was a local resident." Ina was bride-kidnapped in Tskaltubo. She raised three children by herself. Now she is waiting to get an apartment. She wants a flat in Kutaisi, because it is easier for her children to find work there. Driving from Tskaltubo to Kutaisi every day takes half of your salary already. They (the government) say that if she does not agree to take an apartment in Tskaltubo, she will have to move from the sanatorium and rent a flat, but she does not have enough income. Sanatorium "Megobroba" (Friendship). Tskaltubo, 2021.
Luka and Elene. Their family moved here from Gagra and has been living in the...READ ON
Luka and Elene. Their family moved here from Gagra and has been living in the sanatorium "Metallurge" for 29 years. Tskaltubo, 2021.
Lolita. She has lived with her three children and nine other family members...READ ON
Lolita. She has lived with her three children and nine other family members for almost 29 years in the sanatorium "Metallurge". Lolita has been working since she was 18 years old, she strives to give her children a better future. Lolita hopes she will be able to move into her own apartment in the spring. Tskaltubo, 2021.
Children are playing freeze tag in the inner courtyard of the sanatorium...READ ON
Children are playing freeze tag in the inner courtyard of the sanatorium “Metallurge”. Tskaltubo, 2021.
Omar Janashia, from the village Aradu, has been living in the sanatorium...READ ON
Omar Janashia, from the village Aradu, has been living in the sanatorium "Gelati" with his sister Shusha for almost 27 years. He recalls that during the war Mkhedrioni (Georgian nationalist paramilitary group) left them and the village was defended by the people of his age. "We stood for two hours at our checkpoints . When they took Sokhumi, there were only two of us left in the village. At first I hoped that we would go back, but now I do not believe in it. The Russians deployed troops there, I do not think we will ever return.” Tskaltubo, 2021.
Lisa, 10 years old, plays with the curtains. Her family has been living in...READ ON
Lisa, 10 years old, plays with the curtains. Her family has been living in Sanatorium "Megobroba" (Friendship) for 27 years. Tskaltubo, 2021.
Nata and Namur from the village Aradu, Ochamtchire municipality. They have...READ ON
Nata and Namur from the village Aradu, Ochamtchire municipality. They have been married for 48 years. They lived in their own home for 20 years. They have been waiting for their own apartment for 28 years. Sanatorium "Gelati". Tskaltubo, 2021.
Foyer of the sanatorium "Sinatle" (light). Yuri Chankvetadze...READ ON
Foyer of the sanatorium "Sinatle" (light). Yuri Chankvetadze painted the tennis table and almost all the common areas of the sanatorium. He started painting in Tskaltubo. He lived in Sokhumi before the war. Tskaltubo, 2021.
Malkhaz from Gagra. He has been living with his family in the Golden Fleece...READ ON
Malkhaz from Gagra. He has been living with his family in the Golden Fleece Hotel since 1994. Shortly after they left Abkhazia, his house was set on fire. He asked relatives who were able to Gagra after the war to bring him soil from his yard. The soil, brought 25 years ago, is carefully stored in a plastic bag. For a while, he stuffed the soil into his shoes. When he went outside, he would tell people, "I am standing on my land." Tbilisi sea. 2021.
Nazi from Sochumi. She worked at the Sukhumi Central Hospital as an operating...READ ON
Nazi from Sochumi. She worked at the Sukhumi Central Hospital as an operating room nurse in the gynecological department until she was appointed to the surgical department after the war started. She worked there until the fall of Sochumi. She has been living in the sanatorium "Aia" for 29 years. Tskaltubo, 2021.
Giorgi. Hotel " Golden Fleece". Tbilisi Sea, 2021.
Foyer of the sanatorium“Metallurge”. "We live in an open...READ ON
Foyer of the sanatorium“Metallurge”. "We live in an open prison" - says Lali, resident of the sanatorium "Metalturge". "It's internal imprisonment, nothing else. The children grow up on the third floor. We can hardly take them out. Outside there are so many things a child moght want to buy - swings, chocolate ... We are locked up at home due to lack of money". Tskaltubo, 2021.
Maguli from the village new Kindghi. She worked in a tea plantation in...READ ON
Maguli from the village new Kindghi. She worked in a tea plantation in Abkhazia. "I bought everything with my hard work, and when we had everything that's when the war started,” she recalls. "Everyone lived well in our village. I did not appreciate our sea - we had a lot of work to do. Now we are talking a lot and have a lot of time." Maguli has been living in the sanatorium "Megobroba" (friendship) since 1994. Tskaltubo, 2021.
Victoria with her grandmother. Sanatorium "Tbilisi". Tskaltubo, 2021.
The corridors of the hotel are used as a common space. The residents of one...READ ON
The corridors of the hotel are used as a common space. The residents of one floor live as a big family. Sometimes they have dinner together, play games, drink coffee or just enjoy each others company. Sanatorium "Samgurali". Tskaltubo. 2021
When the Soviet Union collapsed, wars broke out in Georgia. 300 000 ethnic Georgians were expelled from Abkhazia, almost half of the region's population. While Abkhazia remains in a state of limbo, the expelled Georgians have met a similar fate of uncertainty. For 30 years they have been living as IDPs on the margins of society, in temporary shelters that have become permanent waiting rooms. Unable to go back to the past and living in constant
uncertainty about the future, they have become trapped in a present that never ends. For 29 years they have been living as so-called
Internally Displaced People (IDPs), without homes or regular jobs, on the margins of society, transfixed by the hope of returning to
their former lives.
Poverty is part of life for the IDPs from Abkhazia. Just like constant uncertainty and the scrutiny from the ministry, if they are
claiming any benefits. But what weighs more heavily are the memories that keep flashing by, of their former lives and the dark times
that came afterwards. And the exclusion from the rest of society, the stigma of being a refugee. “Refugee, refugee, refugee... I don't
want to be a refugee anymore. I am sick of it,” Marina, from Otchamchire, Abkhazia, sighs.
At home in Abkhazia, all these people had a house, a job, friends, neighbors, a role in the community. In today's Georgia, in the
emergency accommodation of Tskaltubo and Tbilisi and elsewhere in the country, they have nothing to hold onto. They are still
waiting to receive their own apartments for so many years.
The people who have been living in dilapidated sanatoriums for 29 years all over the country, are a remnant of a bygone era that one
would rather simply forget. They are a reminder of the tragic turn Georgia has gone through since the Soviet Union fell apart, and also
a reminder of the mistakes that have been made then and since.
Project was made with support of Goethe Institute Georgia and in collaboration with writer Annina Lehman.