This Mother’s Day, RDFG salutes our country’s mothers – their kindness, resilience, ingenuity, and dedication to creating a better future for all Georgian children.
Elene Shoshitashvili and her husband, Zurab Tshoniashvili, live in Shaumiani, having fled their home in Ksuisi village, near Tskhinvali, in 2008. Soon after they arrived in the IDP settlement in Shaumiani with their four children, Elene, a grade school teacher in Ksuisi, was asked by the Educational Resource Center of Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia to create a school for the Georgian children because there were only Russian and Armenian schools in Shaumiani village. She visited families throughout the settlement or met them as they were coming off the bus, enrolling nearly 60 children in school.
But gathering the students was only the first step; she needed teachers too. Elene’s motivation was to support IDPs employment, so she decided that the teachers should also be IDPs. Thus she recruited them from within her community, but realized there were not enough eligible teachers in Shaumiani. So, she traveled to the Koda IDP settlement and found teachers there willing to commute. After opening the school, Elene became the Russian language teacher, a position she continues. The Shaumiani #2 public school is now in its ninth year and teaches Georgian, Armenian and Azeri students together.
In 2010, Elene and Zurab welcomed their fifth child, Ana, but Elene didn’t let a newborn slow her down. She continued teaching, while caring for her other children, Tako, now 24 years old; Gvantsa, now 23; Nika, now 16; and Mariami, now 13. Elene says that staying busy and raising her large family keeps her life interesting and energizes her.
The children helped tend the vegetable garden that Elene planted, which they turned into a strawberry patch last year because it has a higher yield. Elene received the knowledge and materials from RDFG to start growing her strawberry demonstration plot within EDKK project. Elene firmly believes that working the soil through farming teaches empathy, and that physical learning is just as important as classroom learning. She hopes that her son, Nika, will pursue farming when he graduates from school.
In addition to being a mother, a teacher and a farmer, Elene volunteers as a mentor for the Young Farmers Center (YFC) in Shaumiani, which is supported by RDFG. She cares deeply for her students in the classroom and in YFC. When asked what advice she gives her students, Elene became emotional. “Not every child likes to read, but they should be encouraged to do it because it introduces them to new worlds and opportunities. Children in Shaumiani don’t see a lot of possibilities for their future and, by involving in different programs and activities, like YFCs, they can learn about themselves and realize what they like and what they want for their futures.”
“Peace is what I want for children and for them to realize their potential,” said Elene in closing. It’s a value shared by mothers in Georgia and around the world.