We help children from Georgia

Artur Stelmasiak

In their short lives they have already experienced war. They know what despair and suffering are. The sick children from Georgia. The war deprived them of everything. The world is waiting for their smiles and the children are waiting for our help.

Recently Ekaterina Beruashvili lived in a small place near Cchinwali in South Osettia. She was a typical 13-year-old girl. She loved playing, dancing; she had many friends. She could draw, paint and play the piano well and she was the best pupil in her form. Her father was a teacher and her mother Makvala worked in a trading company in Gori. They also had a cottage and some land in the country. They were quite well off, considering the Georgian conditions of living. ‘We were not wealthy but we did not lack anything. We were happy and grateful for what God gave us’, says Makvala Beruashvili. It is hard for them to speak what happened to them in August. When I asked another question I saw tears in the woman’s eyes. ‘When the Russians entered our village we had to run away. Now there is no single Georgian left in our village… We have no house… And we have nowhere to return’, says the woman crying. Additionally, the decision of the Kremlin filled their cup of bitterness to the brim. When the Russian authorities declared the independence of Osettia their house (or rather its ruins) was on the other side of the barricade. And there were ethnic cleansings in the whole territory of South Osettia. Practically, all Georgians were expelled and one should not expect any changes soon. Despite all these things Makvala Beruashvili hopes to return to her country. ‘This faith unites all Georgians. It can be our national characteristic’, explains Gvantsa Ratianii-Rogony, assistant of the Georgian Ambassador to Poland.

A stroke of luck

Running away from the Russian front the Beruashvili family found shelter in the refugee camp in the capital of Georgia. There the girl experienced a stroke of luck for the first time. During the memorable visit to Tbilisi President Lech Kaczynski invited the refugees’ children to visit Poland. Ekaterina Beruashvili found herself among other children aboard the governmental aircraft. Gorzow Wielkopolski welcomed the Georgians very cordially. The organisers and sponsors did their best to entertain the children so that they would forget their trauma for a while. During their stay in Poland the children underwent a standard medical check-up. And again the Beruashvilis experienced hardships. It turned out that their only child was seriously ill. Ekaterina has a congenital heart defect. She needs to be operated on. Without the operation she could live 10 years at the most. ‘In Polish conditions this defect is normally detected just after birth’, says Malgorzata Gosiewska, who co-ordinates the visit of the Georgian children in the President’s Office. Then the question whether to operate the girl in Poland or to send her to Georgia where her chances for recovery are very little was posed. And finally, who is going to pay for the operation? ‘Here the President’s Office made the grade. The Office assigned 30,000 zloty for the operation’, says Gvantsa Ratianii-Rogony.

Ekaterina smiles again

The mother of Ekaterina came to Poland before the operation. The treatment was successful. And the doctors from the Health Care Centre for Children proved to be world-class specialists. Ekatarina smiles again and her brown eyes are radiant and one can see enthusiasm in them. ‘Now I know that Lord God can bring beams of good even in the most difficult moments. Paradoxically, thanks to all our tragedies our daughter is healthy. Who knows what would have happened if the Polish specialists’ had not treated her’, she says. Great happiness and gratitude are in the mother’s eyes. Talking to me she thanked the Polish doctors and the medical staff, the President, the Georgian Embassy in Poland and all Poles.

He saw his father’s death

Temuri Machmeaszfili experienced a big tragedy during the first conflict with Osettia. In the 1990s he, a small boy, was brought up only by his father. Together with his grandmother they lived in the very turbulent region north of Gori. They saw skirmishes between the army and the partisans every day. His family, like many local Georgians, got used to that. Until the tragedy happened. One day a plane flew over the yard where little Temuri was playing. After a while a bomb fell on their farm. It was the darkest day in the short life of the boy since he saw his father’s death. And he lost his hearing almost completely. He was left with his beloved grandma and the grandma had only her grandson. On top of all that the war broke out in August 2008. The grandma with 15-year-old Terumi had to run away. They both arrived at the refugee camp. From there the boy flew to Poland with a group of Georgian children. He spent holiday in Ustrzyki Dolne.

Will he lose his hearing for good?

Currently, Temuri Machmeaszfili, together with his grandma, is living with a family of Georgian background in Lublin. ‘I remember picking them up at the airport. I asked them, ‘Where is your luggage, any suitcase?’ It turned out that their possessions were only their clothes they were wearing’, says Jacek Piasecki, who looks after Temuri. After Temuri had been examined, the doctors said that there was a chance for him. Having consulted Prof. Henryk Skarzynski, one of the outstanding Polish specialists, it occurred that the boy could hear again. ‘Prof. Skarzynski wants to conduct the operation without any fee. We must only buy the implant, i.e. we need about 60,000 zloty,’ explains Małgorzata Gosiewska. According to the doctors if the boy is not operated on now he will lose his hearing irretrievably in a few years.

Let us open our hearts

The President’s Office co-ordinates the boy’s case. ‘But we have no means for another operation in our budget’, Gosiewska says. And we invite more children from Georgia and certainly there will be more such cases soon. Therefore, the President’s Office, Caritas Polska, the daily ‘Rzeczpospolita’ and the Catholic Weekly ‘Niedziela’ are organising a collection for Temuri’s operation. ‘Let us help Temuri smile again’, Gosiewska appeals. Fr Zdzislaw Swiniarski from Caritas Polska has opened a special bank account for this action so that readers can transfer money. ‘We appeal to all open hearts. If there is more money than we need for the boy’s operation we will help other children from Georgia’, Fr Swiniarski says. Ekaterina Beruashvili has already left hospital. She will stay in Poland with her mother for several weeks. She must come for medical check-up. But the girl longs her homeland Georgia. Although she has got no house there she knows that Georgia is her place. ‘What did you like most in our country?’, I ask her. ‘Everything!’, Ekatarina answers with a grateful smile. ‘And what in particular?’ ‘Polish people. I owe them everything’, she adds.

Joint action of the President’s Office, Caritas Polska, ‘Rzeczpospolita’ and ‘Niedziela’

Let us help!
Individuals and institutions that want to help the harmed can send money to the following bank account:
Skwer Kard. Wyszynskiego 9
01 -015 Warszawa
Bank PKO BP SA 70 1020 1013 0000 0102 0002 6526
with the note ‘Georgian children’

"Niedziela" 40/2008

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl