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Volume 7, No. 2FALL 2004

Georgian schools getting passing
grade with help of IOCC, partners

By Darejan Dzotsenidze, IOCC Georgia

Photos: Grigol Giorgadze-IOCC

Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia (IOCC) — In the past, you wouldn’t find students at Borjomi School No. 1 looking for ways to get a bathroom break in the middle of class. The restrooms in their school were barely useable.

“Before IOCC fixed our lavatories, the toilet was very dirty,” said Tsotne, 14, an eighth-grader at Borjomi. “The windows were broken, the walls were covered with graffiti; we did not have running water to wash our hands. We would all use our feet to open the toilet doors. We were afraid even to touch the doors.”

The 30-year-old school in southern Georgia is one of many that IOCC has helped over the past three years. With an enrollment of 600 students ages 6-17, Borjomi participated in IOCC’s school lunch program and serves children displaced by the early 1990s civil war.

“The kids really enjoyed coming to school during the time the program was running — they were so happy to receive their meals,” Principal Nugzar Chaduneli said, noting that Georgian schools in general suffer from a lack of funds, resources and textbooks.

Then school leaders appealed to IOCC to help fix the intolerable conditions of the restrooms. Parents, the school administration and the local government had no funds to address the problem — a sewage system that did not work and no running water.

Marina Dadiani, a teacher at Borjomi, said the conditions were so bad that the teachers and parents recommended the students not use the bathrooms at all. There was even a threat of hepatitis spreading at the school.

“But, this was in the past,” Ms. Dadiani said. “Now our lavatories are brand new and clean. Even the janitor keeps joking that she enjoys cleaning the new bathrooms because they are so clean. Hygiene and sanitary conditions at school are one of the basic requirements for our children’s health, and healthy children are the future of our country.”

With IOCC’s assistance, the school was able to repair the restrooms and sewage system as part of a larger program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The physical improvements also have meant improvements to the school’s sanitary conditions and to the overall health of the students, school officials said.

Elsewhere in Georgia, IOCC has been active making repairs to other dilapidated school buildings, including fixing leaky roofs. A lack of money and resources, as well as years of neglect, has left many Georgian schools in a state of disrepair.

Monika and Nika, fifth-graders from southern Georgia, are glad that IOCC recently repaired their school, Likani Abkhazian Ministry School. “Last year, IOCC painted the walls, fixed the toilets and arranged new classrooms in our school. Before that, several classes shared each classroom. Now each class has its own room,” Nika said.

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