Photo project: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

On March 21 people all over the world celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This is a short photo project i worked on with the help and participation of some friends in Tbilisi aiming at encouraging the worldwide fight against racism and promoting tolerance in our communities and lives. Marisa from Poland, Celia from Britain, Richard from Czech Republic, Robin from Wales and Elisabeth from Belgium posed with anti-discrimination messages written on different parts of their bodies calling for equality between people regardless their race, gender, nation or religion. Have a look at the results below!

Comics workshop at Tbilisi Sea School

DSC_1776On 13 March, the DRONI EVS and local volunteers visited Tbilisi Sea School and gave a workshop on comics. Children found self- expression by drawing comic faces illustrations which they mimicked by the end of the session. This activity helped them improve their communication skills, express their feelings, interact and exchange while entertaining themselves.

Second workshop at Tbilisi Sea School

IMG_1658On 6 March, the DRONI EVS together with local volunteers, visited the IDP settlements of the Tbilisi Sea School. Students actively participated in the outdoor session of activities related to the Mother’s Day! Games, energizers and pantomime strengthened children’s participation and entertained them during the workshop! The upcoming Thursday we are planning comics workshops and a short theatrical play with the children. More info coming soon!

International Women’s Day photo messages

As today it is the 8th of March, this is a themed photo shoot inspired by the International Women’s Day. Being in Tbilisi, I thought it would be a nice idea to capture opinions related to gender issues and reality. Therefore four of my friends and colleagues from Georgia, France and Greece expressed themselves in front of the camera and here are the results!

Youth without boarders: Creative writing and photography workshops at IDP settlements

Tbilisi Sea School IDP settlement

Tbilisi Sea School IDP settlement

The rest of my project plans for the following months are related to the Youth without boarders project in the framework of which I will be preparing creative writing and photography workshops in three different IDP settlements in and around Tbilisi (Skra, Shaumiani and Tbilisi Sea school). Workshops will focus on creative writing and photography as tools for self- discovery, expression and sharing with others. The main goal of the workshops will be to make the connection between speech and image as means of self- representation and self- expression.

The main aim will be to give participants the opportunity to realize, imagine, create and share using two different interlinked tools (image and speech) while creating their own personal photo story linked to their daily life and future expectations.

After brief introductions and examples on the topics of creative writing and photography, the participants will be divided in groups and will be asked to make their own photos using digital cameras that will be distributed to them. They will then present their photos explaining the stories behind their pictures, first in oral and then in written language.

An exhibition of combined photo- work and narrative (personal photo stories) will be the final result of this workshop. As a result, the participants will increase their self- confidence, will experiment on different topics and share their visions with others. Preparation process has already started and I am looking forward to visiting the settlements for starting with the implementation of activities, hopefully from April and on!

ACCT moves out of the Hippodrome

final meeting at the Hippodrome

final meeting at the Hippodrome

More than a week ago, the discussion about the Hippodrome project led to the final decision for ACCT members to move out of the specific building. On the one side, the camel man, Goran and on the other side the representatives and supporters of ACCT, did not manage to reach a consensus about the future of the building that would be beneficial for both sides. Therefore, after quite some time of collective effort around this purpose, the ACCT left the Hippodrome building in Goran’s and his animals’ hands. There has been an ongoing discussion about moving into new abandoned building as the base of the community is already strong and could be used for new alternative purposes. The Critical Mass event taking place tomorrow afternoon is part of the ongoing work linked to future initiatives of the initial ACCT project.

moving out of the Hippodrome

moving out of the Hippodrome

Profoundly ACCT, also present at Vake Park, will be still participating and also initiating different type of activities around Tbilisi even if the Hippodrome project has now been officially closed!

Georgia, a world on its own

IMG_0471I am in a geopolitical seismic zone. In order to understand the Caucasus region and its people you have to look deeper into its interconnected parts and at the same time use your wide- angle lenses for giving yourself the distance needed for understanding the framework you are in.

After having been in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan before, as a traveller during last summer, this time I decided to come back to Tbilisi and try out culture, people and life in different ways than before. Stepping out of my comfort zone, especially after having lived in the Euro- bubble of Brussels, being back here has been a beautiful challenge.

IMG_0056There is undeniably a cultural shock for most of the Europeans here but I would say that for a mentality to flourish and a mind to get inspired, one cannot compare or judge based on what he already knows but most probably on the basis of what he expects and desires to learn and experience. And this is the reason you have to live in such a place and try out every single aspect of it, dig inside the deepest layers of local life and natives and then draw your own conclusions. You don’t necessarily have to accept but I would say that you owe to yourself to try and understand before coming to an end which shuts down your mind and tightens the spectrum of reality around you.

IMG_0084Among the mountains, the sea and the chaotic, cosmopolitan Tbilisi with its nationalistic and soviet influences, its medieval fortresses and decayed houses in the Old Town, different aspects of national identity are emerging in everyday life and interaction. The big boulevards and neo-classic buildings in other parts of the city align Tbilisi more with Europe than Asia.

Its connection with the rest of the South Caucasus countries, provided by the similar cultural traditions and common conceptions, goes in hand with the progressive step forward to a new way of thinking. Even if mentality has been a big part of the way through, I would support that the substance of future development is the dual nature of this place.

DSC_1287A colossal landmark as well as a powerful barrier, Georgia has been reborn many times in the past . Post- conflict life of Ossetians and Abkhaz, together with the one of ethnic groups of Mingrelians and Svans, characterized by linguistic diversity have formed the self- ruled community life and at the same time collective way of being in Georgia.

I am eager to come in contact and interaction with the Internally Displaced Youth coming from Abkhazian and South Ossetian War of 2008 and share views and understanding on post- conflict way of living. They are not refugees as they did not have to leave their country and move to a new one, but they are Internally Displaced People (IDPs), people who due to the conflict had to leave specific conflict areas of their country and move to new places of the same country for a new life establishment.

DSC_1391A vibrant and diverse crossroad between Europe and Asia, where chaos meets spontaneous creativity and the past negotiates with the future for a better tomorrow, Georgia is a world on its own. Maybe I find my place in it, or I will at least try and make my mind about it during my 9-month stay here!

 

Until then i will be found in bazars around the city, hiding myself behind the dirty, muddy corners of the vegetable leftovers trying to grasp the diffusing smells of uncertainty and desire. Or maybe downtown in some western-ized bars after long supras (traditional dinners) in the  soviet- style basement restaurants. Or maybe among the mountains of the Caucasus up in the north with the fresh brewed air and the rural beauty tickling my sight. Or maybe on a marshrutka on my way to self-discovery between the crossroads of the East. Or maybe downtown somewhere between the beggars and the street sellers, listening to the deep roar of the streets as another encounter of life and adventure!

Another day at Vake park

DSC_1350

with the shelter dogs

gardening

gardening

Guerilla Gardening Tbilisi movement organised today, 22 February, one more collective action for the protection of Vake Park. This time dogs from the Dog Organization Georgia shelter near Lisi lake were brought to the park for finding future owners. Small gardening activities and the  Really, Really Free Market (RRFM) took place regardless the rain and cold of the day.