With Natakhtari’s support, Mari Mchedlidze became a graduate of the Natalie Educational Center.
The Natakhtari brewing company established the Natakhtari Fund in November 2011. Soon after, the company launched a charity project entitled “Think about the Future”. The fund’s aim is to help adolescents deprived of parental care prepare for independent life. The project is being implemented with the assistance of the Our House Georgia Association and the support and blessings of Ilia II, the leader of Georgia’s Christian Orthodox Church.
Under the project, a target group of 16-18 year-old adolescents were indentified. With the help of psychologists, the special needs for each beneficiary was defined such as training in school subjects, studies in colleges and vocational schools, training courses for obtaining driver’s licenses and computer courses. Transportation for the beneficiaries was financed from the fund’s budget. As a result, by the end of 2012, several adolescents were able to start fully independent lives.
We interviewed Mariam Mchedlidze, one of the project’s beneficiaries from the Khashuri region. With Natakhtari’s assistance, she has learned the skills to be a cosmetologist and has serious plans for the future.
“In my childhood, I was interested in more “practical” professions. For example, in my early school years, I wanted to become a doctor. However, the only industry that I have always been attracted to was the fashion industry. I liked beautiful and sophisticated girls, their apparel and appearance. I also wanted to take care of their image– to take part in the process of making them prettier,” she recalls.
“I was realizing this dream in my childhood by caring for my dolls. I was often sewing new clothes for them, changing their hairstyle and their make-up. With the assistance of the Natakhtari Fund, my dream went from an objective to a reality. At the Natalie Center beauty salon, I was studying cosmetology, this was a two-month study course and I acquired significant experience in this field. During this period I was living in Tbilisi,” Mariam explained.
Natakhtari provided her with accommodation and took care of the tuition fee. Now she is confident that she’ll find a job easily and make her second dream come true – study psychology.
Mariam does not consider this a dream, these are goals for her. “I am a purposeful person and if I want something very much I always achieve it. I am sure that one day my loved ones will be proud of me,” she says.
Looking back at her days spent at a family-style children’s home in Khashuri, Mariam talks with affection. “I acquired many friends there. Some stayed at the home, some of them returned to their families. I still keep in contact with them,” she added.
Currently, she lives in the central Georgian city of Gori with her brothers. She dreams of becoming a philanthropist and help children who have no parental care. “Nothing will compare with this feeling,” she notes.
Mariam spends her free time with her friends. She likes reading– especially poetry. She also writes herself. However, she did not feel comfortable sharing her work with us. “It’s only for me, when I am on my own and I want to say something and cannot disclose it to anyone,” she says, adding that “this is probably only of value to myself anyway.”
“At a first glance, Mariam seemed confused. However, she knew exactly what she wanted. She was driven by the idea of learning cosmetology. We helped her and last year we sent her to one of the beauty salons; she was an assistant observing the processes,” explains psychologist, Gvantsa Metivishvili.
“During her internship program Mariam was paid 100 lari. Later she attended courses at Natalie Center. Mariam received a certificate for her professional education. She will receive equipment from the project as well and afterwards she can work at any beauty salon,” Metivishvili continued.
Currently, Mariam received 500 Lari on a monthly basis to help cover her basic living accommodations. She lives with her aunt. The Ivana Foundation provided them with an apartment, which still requires some renovations. Their accommodations will improve shortly with the assistance of the Natakhtari Fund.
“The project is really unique and adolescents who lack parental care now have hope. You have to see how many 14-15 year-olds are waiting to become involved in this project i.e.– looking forward to becoming 16-17 year-olds. This is a certain incentive,” Metivishvili said.