SOS Social Centres in Georgia
In Georgia there are currently three Social Centres for children and the local community, two in Tbilisi and one in Kutaisi. Many SOS Social Centres operate via Family Strengthening Programmes, which aim to support the wider community. Below is some information about some of the Social Centres that SOS Children runs in Georgia:
SOS Social Centres around Georgia: In-Depth
Tbilisi and Kutaisi
Description of SOS Social Centres/FSP:
The family strengthening programmes offer access to essential services for children’s development (eg. educational, nutritional, health support, social skills) and supports families to protect and care for their children. The programme also aims at linking families with income generating activities and offers help to improve the parents’ parenting skills.
Work and Achievements:
In 2009, Family Strengthening Program of SOS Georgia diversified its services/interventions and provided various types of support to beneficiaries. Namely, in addition to social work service, the target group was provided with psychotherapeutic, employment, vocational training, medical, cultural and educational assistance.
A psychotherapeutic service was developed in August 2009 and immediately obtained trust among beneficiaries. This type of service includes individual and group work with children and parents. In case of individual work, a psychotherapist works with each beneficiary (child or parent) individually and makes effort to solve the psychological problems by means of individual consultations. As for the group work with children, it includes art, play and music therapies.
Art, Play and Music therapies contribute to improving the psycho-emotional conditions of children, increasing the communication skills, decreasing the aggression, improving the attention span, controlling the hyperactive behaviour and practicing the team working. Children also participate in various measures which enable them to develop their imagination and creativity, self-confidence and motivation, self-realization and team building through organizing theatrical performances and concerts with the active participation of children. In 2009, children arranged several theatrical performances and concerts where the scripts, including dancing and singing were prepared by the children themselves.
Group work with parents embraces Mother’s club and Self-help group activities. Mothers’ Club assists parents to overcome various psychological problems and increase knowledge about the issues of their concern through discussions, seminars and trainings. From time to time, the different experts and professionals are invited. The topics that were already discussed during mother’s club meeting are: psychological and physical development of children; television and children; adolescence and the characteristics of this age; children’s psycho-emotional problems; lack of attention and hyperactive-child syndrome; negative behaviour of children and the ways of punishment; violence and prevention of violence; self-realization; effect of family on personal formation of a child; stress-induced injury; development of skills to overcome the crisis; prophylaxis of breast cancer.
The Mothers’ Club served is a start point for the formation of a Self-help group, which is aimed at providing moral and material support for each other. During self-help group meetings parents share the ideas and emotions, and search for the ways of overcoming the existing problems. With the support of this group the clothes, books and the other needed items were collected and delivered to the FSP families.
Another service which focuses on the capacity building of FSP beneficiaries is employment support. It was also developed in August 2009. The aim of the abovementioned service is to assist beneficiaries (parents and youth) enhance employment opportunities by assessing the needs, skills and qualification of each beneficiaries and providing professional development courses, consultations on employment opportunities, trainings on CV writing and interview presentation skills. Furthermore, the employment consultant solicits with a variety of non-governmental and governmental organizations, vocational training centres, mass-media (job vacancies) and private sectors (business organizations, different companies, banks, etc.) for increasing professional development and employment opportunities for beneficiaries.
Vocational training is one of the significant components of the employment service. It assists the beneficiaries with specializing in an actual profession or increasing their professional skills. It is a prerequisite for making the beneficiaries competitive in the employment market. The most demanded professional skills that were acquired by FSP beneficiaries in 2009 encompass accountancy, sewing, enamelling and hairdressing. Many beneficiaries also developed computer skills. In a number of cases, a special emphasis was made on self-employment.
In 2009, a medical service was provided to FSP beneficiaries (children and parents) to improve their poor health conditions. Those FSP beneficiaries who could not afford to visit doctors before had theopportunity to visit a podiatrist, gynaecologist, neuro-pathologist and endocrinologist, who could conduct proper medical examinations and take professional consultations from them. Some of the beneficiaries with complaints of chronic sore throat and frequent chill underwent operations on the tonsils. Several children also underwent free dental check up and treatment with the support of Foundation Iavnana.
Educational support was also provided to FSP children beneficiaries in 2009. Some children took computer courses and acquired skills in Office software. It is worth mentioning that the computer courses stimulated growing interest in the youth. It increased their motivation to deepen their knowledge in this field and choose it as a future profession. Some of the beneficiary children who encountered education problems had the opportunity to take extra classes in various subjects at school # 170 and NGO “Youth House” and improve their education level. In addition, in September 2009, the main school textbooks were given as gifts to 200 children of 115 families within the Family Strengthening Program. These were for the families that could not afford to purchase the necessary textbooks for the children.
Through Cultural Activities FSP beneficiaries (children and parents) were able to attend cinemas, theatres and museums and increase their knowledge about the culture of art. It should be mentioned that the majority of children did not have this experience before. Children enjoyed watching animated movies and developed their creative skills. Some of them decided to paint and create new animated films themselves. In summer and autumn, children and parents were able to go on excursions in the suburbs and take pleasure by visiting various sightseeing and historical places. They were accompanied by the Playbus team who provoked positive and entertaining emotions among beneficiaries by involving parents and children in various activities and games.
As a result of advocacy activities, the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia sponsored professional development training courses (enameling, sewing, modelling, design, text formatting and layout) for 53 beneficiaries of SOS Children Villages Georgia family strengthening program (Tbilisi and Kutaisi).
On June 1, FSP children in Tbilisi and in Kutaisi attended measures dedicated to the protection and promotion of children’s rights. The measure included theatrical performances, concerts and cultural-entertainment activities. The measure emphasized the importance of support to socially needy children.
On November 20, SOS Children’s Villages Georgia planned and organized street manifestation against Child Abuse. 55 Family Strengthening Project children protested child abuse with exclamations and transparent. After street manifestation children attended the premiere of theatrical performance at Nodar Dumbadze Theatre.
By means of Family Strengthening Project advocacy, local Municipality of Kutaisi gave opportunity to FSP beneficiary children to attend patriotic (summer) camps.
Work and achievements:
The year of 2009 was special for SOS Children’s Village Georgia as well as the Playbus Project because the organization has obtained small scale UNICEF grant for Playbus Project which envisaged psycho rehabilitation of the internally displaced children (victims of August 2008 war in Georgia) in the community settlement of Koda, Shavshvebi and Tserovani through Playbus recreational activities.
In total 20 activities have been conducted and more than 2,400 children participated in them. On average, 120 children attended each activity. Each activity lasted 2 hours. During these activities the Playbus team offered different play stations to children. These play stations included handicrafts, juggling, steels, grass skis, movement materials, table games, face painting, parachuting, games without materials, singing songs and telling stories. Furthermore, children had the opportunity to participate in sport competitions as well. At the end of each activity the Playbus team gifted all participant children with nice pens and study schedule sheets.
SOS Playbus play activities assisted children to improve their social skills, increase self-confidence and self-esteem. By means of playing, children have learnt the techniques of how to deal with problems and cope with challenges; They were skilled to find the best outcomes out of difficult situations; During these activities, the Playbus team promoted principles of equality and a sense of justice. In addition, children got experience in acting as a group. The Playbus team showed children how to cooperate in a group to reach goals and how to defend and respect each other's rights.
It should be mentioned that in spite of the fact that the direct target group of the SOS Playbus was children from age 3 to 14, the engagement of adults and teenagers was also high. Children of different ages had the opportunity to understand the value of sport and outdoor activities for a healthy life. Children were able to develop their imagination, memory and creativity while playing diverse games. In addition, integration of IDP and community children was promoted.
The games were educationally designed and children had opportunities to freely express their wishes and ideas; explore feelings and experience in a safe and friendly environment. The Playbus team encouraged the participation of parents in their activities and promoted skills for better communication with children; emphasized the importance of the play activities for a child development and the role of parents in supporting children during leisure time activities. Together with children parents played not only wooden games but also made bangles and necklaces from beads.
Emotional education was an important component of Playbus activity as well. Children were able to experience success, cope with failures, be a part of group performance, take new challenges and risks, use and develop fantasy, act in front of an audience, take over responsibility and learn to trust in themselves as well as in others.
“Face-painting station” was distinguished as the most favorite activity among participant children due to the fact that children were able to be painted as their favorite cartoon characters such as lion, batman, Spiderman and so forth. Three and four year age children were also entertaining themselves with different parachute games and colorful cubes.
Kids were extremely excited to take part in the competition organized by playbus at the end of the activities. It is worth to note that parents were actively involved in motivating and supporting their children to succeed. They expressed gratitude to SOS playbus team for making their life more joyful.
The playbus team also created and organized educational program with entertaining element for homeless children from 6 up to 8 grades. The aim of the program was to educate and provide children with information about how understand the time on the clock/watch. The program envisaged full 5 day training course. At the end of the program children were awarded with the certificates of attendance. Children expressed great happiness and joy.
In 2009, in total 13,819 children and 2,792 adults participated in Playbus activities.