Let me share just a small excerpt from our trip to Georgia. Georgia is divided into twelve regions with one of the regions fully occupied and another partially by Russia. We were fortunate to be able to travel within 9 of these twelve regions. We traveled within close proximity and sight of Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. It is a country with many nations within itself and from what I could gather a lot of segregation. For example we traveled to many towns and villages that would be know by a predominate nationality like Armenians, Azerbaijan and Georgians etc. Along with these different nationalities you had Ukrainians, Indians, Kurds, Turks and Russians. It is a country with a tremendous amount of history and cultural diversity. It's historical landscape dates back thousands of years. One example, this area is believed to have had wine vineyards dating back over 7000 years. It is also a country that has a feeling of progress and of moving economically towards a better future. At the same time, there are signs of setbacks, failures and political challenges and inequalities. There is very little middle class and a very large gap between the lower class and upper class. For a country so beautiful and progressive, I have never seen so many beggars and homeless people with no other options available. You could expect children or mothers to approach you almost anywhere asking for money or food. In some cases, they could be very aggressive. There comes a point that you begin to ask how much do you give and when do you begin to put on your blinders to the needs around you. You could literally give everything you had and still more would be asked of you. It's was just not possible to give to everyone who would ask you for help. So we would always carry change and give as we felt lead and were able. On one occasion we had come out of a small market with bottled water and a banana and I was approached, like so many times before, by a very aggressive woman asking for money. I gave her a rather large amount of money but that was not enough for her. She wanted my banana too. It was then that I began to feel a lot like a character in the movie "Despicable Me" as a wide eyed minion tried to wrestle my partially eaten banana from my hands. Humorous but very sad as these kinds of stories would play over and over each day as we traveled.
The influence and history of the Orthodox Church in Georgia is literally everywhere. Incredibly beautiful Orthodox churches dot the landscape and there belief systems are intertwined into government, business, culture, art and personal lives. Add to this a predominate mix of Baptists, Pentecostals, Assemblies of God and growing population of Muslims and you have an incredibly diverse religious and belief system.
In the beginning when we flew into Tbilisi Georgia, we were expecting another variation of the country of Ukraine. Instead what we found, was a uniquely beautiful people and country. Our goal was to understand and appreciate even more those who lived in Georgia, those we work and partner with and to better understand the history and culture of this great country. What we found was an intriguiging and beautifuly unique place that neither of us ever imagined.
A short video of highlights of our trip accross Georgia:
ps: if embeded video does not work please use this link: http://video214.com/play/efiu0gSGaJ4EV1QZcsOgfA/s/dark
Vision for the Children International