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Monday, November 19, 2012

Gremis Temi:Life in a Community

   It’s been a month since I’ve started new job and I like going back to fieldwork. Presently, we are in a Gremi community, training teachers, caregivers, cooks, gardeners and bunch of German volunteers about inclusive education.  It is quiet and peaceful in Gremi, we saw the historic places earlier and now we are sitting in our room, without comfort we are used to, but that’s OK, we are warm, we are not hungry and we are inspired.
   Gremi community, known as Gremis Temi is the only place in Georgia where people with disabilities live as functional members of the society, opposed to sitting in class where they are barely tolerated or being hidden away from the neighbors.  Here, everybody works according to own abilities and is involved in the communal well-being. I have never seen people with disabilities live such a full life in Georgia, life full of work, fun, happiness and disappointment, achievement and quarrel, taking care of self and others. People meet people here, people are people here. It is so unusual to find a functioning Georgian community of any kind, let alone one with many challenges: physical, emotional, behavioral, mental, fiscal…
    Gremi community is fully sustainable. Temi inhabitants grow, cook and eat their own produce. They bake their own delicious bread and prepare own lobio infused with fresh herbs from their own garden. They harvest grapes and sell Temi wine—after all, Gremi is in Kakheti, the wine-producing region. They have a carpentry shop where they build window, railings, tables and other necessary items. They harness the sun energy via solar batteries. They receive small portion of governmental aid and local and international donations.
    The place is so very cool that I can’t describe how cool it is. Eighty people sharing the same home, a home and not an institution. Eighty people!
     The community quietly sits in picturesque valley, surrounded by mountains, Gremi monastery seen from the dormitory widows, Nekresi just a hike away. Nature is breathtaking and I will be definitely taking some foreign guests to show off the views.
     From now on, we will always use their everyday life as example of involvement and inclusion.
Of course week spent in Gremi is not enough to full appreciate it or to notice downfalls, but it definitely made a lasting first impression.
    For five days we worked with the staff, who know a lot through experience, and six German volunteers, who came here to stay for a year and work along with the Temi, like everybody else, enjoying rare hot showers and sharing rooms with others, eating local food and learning Georgian, dedicated and unpretentious, simply nice, fun-loving, hard-working young individuals. Staff is pretty knowledgeable and what is even more important, is accepting and loving.
    Thanks Gremis Temi for your hospitality! I want to come back to you.
P.S. the pic taken form Gremi castle

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