A safe place from the streets

Apr 25, 2017
3 minute read
When she first arrived at the centre, Mari looked distraight and neglected: dirty, with worn clothes and a scalp full of lice. She, like many other children in Tbilisi, come from the streets. In 2014, World Vision established a crisis care intervention centre to give children living or working on the street access to essential services in a safe and caring environment.

"I felt accepted by teachers and the children around me," Mari says, as she remembers her first encounter with the crisis centre, "It was a great feeling"| a feeling I had never had before."

Education wasn't always an option for the 14-year-old girl. In fact, there are many children and youth in the community who have never attended school before because it's common for them to come from broken, impoverished homes. Instead of studying, many begg for money to support themselves or their families financially. Because Mari didn't have the experience of school, she didn't have many friends either. At first, Mari's peers didn't want to be near her. But they quickly noticed that her lack of hygiene and poor social skills were a silent cry for help. 

At the centre, the children learn to read, write, count and acquire good health habits. Here, the children not only learn, but are embraced in a friendly atmosphere, given nutritious meals and are supported by their teachers. Soon, everyone started noticing a positive change in Mari. In the life skills classes, Mari experienced interactive teaching, games, role playing, illustrations and cultural events. 

"After two life skills training classes, Mari [washed and] cut her hair, she started to wear clean clothes," says Mariana, a staff member at the centre. "The other children have also changed their attitudes towards her," she adds. Mari had undergone a true transformation. "She has potential, she just needs our help," says Mariana.

The centre has the capacity to host 30 children overnight and provides 24-hour care for up to 10 children at a time. It has become a safe space for children like Mari. Having the chance to learn new things every day gives the children hope that one day they may be able to leave the streets and move onto a better life.