. . . the roof is covered with forest

Tako Robakidze

2021 - Ongoing

Poverty is part of the life of the Abkhazian displaced, as well as constant uncertainty, and the scrutiny of the Ministry for making any claims for assistance. But what weighs more heavily are the memories that keep flashing from a previous life and the dark time that came afterwards. And the exclusion from the rest of society, the stigma of being a refugee: “Refugees, refugees, refugees ... I don't want to be a refugee anymore. I'm sorry, "sighs Marina. "We're Georgians too."

The people who have been living in dilapidated sanatoriums and former clinics for 29 years, in Tskaltubo, in Tbilisi, 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. All the terrible things that happened in the 1990s, the chaos, the injustice, and the strokes of fate that broke into people's lives in the form of war and crime.

But war and crime are not a stroke of fate. They are the result of decisions, of human actions, powerful and less powerful. They are made by people and belong to a society, grow in it or are combated. That is a fact that is difficult to look into the eye. But the more we understand about the world, the more we understand the extent of our responsibility: if we are sick and do not see a doctor, we run the risk of losing our chance of a cure. It is important to look. At the past, at the present, at the future, which is reflected in the faces of the people who have been waiting so long for things to get better.

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  • Ina from Ochamchire. She was 18 years old when her family arrived in Tskaltubo. She was at the sea with her friends when they saw the 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. My sister took me to Imereti region. However, since then she returned to Ochamchire several times. Ina wanted to study nursing at Sokhumi University. After the fall of Sokhumi, everything was left 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 a resident. Ina was kidnapped in Tskaltubo. She raised three children alone. Now she is waiting to get an apartment. She wants a flat in Kutaisi, because it is easier for her children to find a job there. Driving from Tskaltubo to Kutaisi takes half of your salary in vain. They (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, she does not have that much income. Tskaltubo, 2021.

  • Luka and Elene. Their family came 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 for almost 29 years in the sanatorium „Metallurge“. Lolita has been working since she was 18 years, she tries to give her children a better future. Lolita hopes she will be able to move into her new apartment in the spring. Tskaltubo, 2021.

  • Children play freeze tag in the inner courtyard of the sanatorium „Metallurge“. Tskaltubo, 2021.

  • 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 us and the village was defended by the people of my age. We stood in our places for 2-2 hours. When they took Sokhumi, there were 2 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 put the military there and strengthened it, I do not think we will ever return. Tskaltubo, 2021.

  • Lisa 10 years old plays with the curtains. Her family has been living in Sanatoirum “Megobroga” (Frendship) for 27 years. Tskaltubo, 2021.

  • 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. "Gelati" sanatorium. Tskaltubo, 2021.

  • Foyer of 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 Hotel since 1994. Shortly after they left Abkhazia his house was set on fire. He asked relatives who could go to Gagra after the war to bring him the land from his yard. The land, brought 25 years ago, is carefully stored in a polyethylene bag. For some time, he stuffed the land into the shoes. When he went outside, he would tell people, "I am standing on my land." Tbilisi sea. 2021.

  • Natela from Gagra. She has been living in the sanatorium “Metallurge” for 29 years. Tskaltubo, 2021.

  • Nazi from Sukhumi. 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. Sanatorium "Aia". Tskaltubo, 2021.

  • Swimming pool in the foyer of sanatorium “Megobroba” (friendship). “We live in an open prison” - says Lali, resident of the sanatorium “Metallurge”. “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 wants - swings, chocolate ... We are locked up at home due to lack of funds”. Tskaltubo, 2021.

  • Giorgi. Hotel " Golden Fleece". Tbilisi sea, 2021.

  • Foyer of the sanatorium“Metallurge”. Tskaltubo, 2021.

  • Maguli from the village new Kindghi. She worked in a tea plantation in Abkhazia. "I bought everything with my hard work, and when I bought everything, it happened to us," 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 "Friendship" since 1994. Tskaltubo, 2021.

  • Victoria with her grandmother. Sanatorium "Tbilisi". Tskaltubo, 2021.

  • Martha, 13 years old, in the corridor of the sanatorium “Friendship”. Her family comes from the Kodori Valley. She was born in Tbilisi;
    her mother was pregnant when they had to leave home. Tskaltubo, 2021.

  • A man living in this room died in August. He was drying the laundry, accidentally he leaned against an old railing, and fell over. Tskaltubo, 2021.

  • The sanatorium "Imereti". Stair railings and stairs are so damaged that it is quite dangerous to walk. Nevertheless, several families still live on the third floor of the sanatorium. Tskaltubo, 2021.

  • Nana from Gagra. 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 talk. Sanatorium "Tbilisi", Tskaltubo, 2021.

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