2007 TartanTbilisi - TartanTbilisi - Who did we help? Print E-mail
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2007 TartanTbilisi
Tuesday 16th October - First Step
Tbilisi Children’s Hospital
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TartanTbilisi - Who did we help?
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Tbilisi Children's Hospital

 A desperately sad place as we found out when we visited. 
The staff obviously do their best and were proud people but they couldn't hide the lack of equipment, medicines, bedding and other basics. The corridors were bleak and the "wards" heartbreaking, especially those with premature babies and very much especially the handicapped babies.


Infant Hospital in Tbilisi, Georgia

Donation proposal from British Embassy in Tbilisi

• Current hospital conditions are poor; lack of working incubators mean babies have to share, therefore risking cross infections; essential medicines needed to prevent infant death from treatable infections; disposable nappies required to stop the incidences of infants wearing damp material pieces

• Donations of any amount will help directly fund medical equipment, medicines and other essentials for the premature baby unit and for orphaned infants admitted from the Tbilisi Infant House

• Stages receives no large scale funding from other charities, businesses or organisations (including British ones); currently reliant on private donations 

Infant Hospital

The Infant Hospital serves babies and children of poor families and those who are orphaned. Sick children from the local orphanage, the Tbilisi Infant House, are transferred to this hospital for treatment. We are particularly concerned with obtaining funding for the premature baby unit and for orphans who are housed in the separate orphans’ room. These infants are aged between 0-3 years old. In terms of numbers, the orphans’ room can hold around 10 infants (though bearing in mind the room is small and beds are crammed together), and the premature baby unit also around 10.

Unsurprisingly, because the hospital serves more disadvantaged members of the community, conditions are pretty poor. The orphans for example are housed in a small, dark, bare room away from other children. Many suffer from disabilities such as cerebral palsy and Downs syndrome and have absolutely nothing to look at, or any stimulus, whilst staying there. In the premature baby unit the incubators, where working, are 20 to 30 years old. Some are held together with masking tape. Often these incubators house two babies at a time, therefore risking cross infections and so further reducing a baby’s ability to survive. Many of the infants in both this unit and in the orphans’ room suffer from very treatable conditions - it is simply the case that there is no money to pay for medicines to treat them. Medicines most needed are those to treat illnesses such as influenza, pneumonia, bronchitis and intestinal infections. It is no exaggeration to say that a few Lari (there are approximately three Lari to one GBP) will buy medicines which really do save lives.

In addition to new equipment donations can also be used to pay for the upkeep of old equipment, parts for equipment and for things as basic as disposable nappies. Often scraps of material are used in the local orphanage as nappies, so those orphans admitted to the hospital risk further infection from pieces of material which are not completely clean. Because of the regular power cuts here in Georgia, it is often impossible to get this material dry once washed (particularly in winter), and there are real incidences of infants being forced to wear these damp scraps of material in the absence of any alternative. 
What is needed….

A donation will buy, or go towards, any of the following current requirements; 

• Incubators
• Heart monitors
• Breathing machines
• Pump injectors for micro infusion
• Medicines
• Nappies




First Step

A success story for the people who run it, breaking away from the the typical ex-Soviet mentality of abondining and ignoring handicapped children. We donated £5,000 and a lawnmower, and gave them a party complete with the Caledonain Pipe band - you've never seen such happy kids as they were that day...truly uplifting.



The First Step Foundation

The First Step (TFS) is a charity non-governmental organization (NGO) registered in Georgia. Its mission is to improve the level of care and living conditions for disabled children and their families, to remove the stigma which the society continues to attach to physical and mental imperfections in children, and to raise awareness and tolerance of their special needs.

The “First Step” was established in response to the horrendous living conditions of disabled orphans n 1990s; due to the cold, insufficient nutrition and inadequate care several children died in Kaspi orphanage (Akhalkalki Psycho-Neurological Dispensary) during these times. Considering this, founders of the First Step Foundation transferred children in severe conditions to the Pediatric Clinic of Guramishvili Hospital; afterwards, they started to think about creating a new home for these children to ensure that they have adequate conditions for life and development. 

On April 20, 1999 Tbilisi authorities facilitated allocation of plot of land to the First Step Foundation; three cottages were built there – two for residence, one for the school type day care center. This territory was called the First Step Village. 

In the beginning of its activities the First Step Foundation served only children with disabilities deprived of parental care; currently its services have expanded and cover children in the families, as well as members of their family.

Currently, following programs are being implemented by the First Step Foundation 

• Residential Program – First Step Village is a residence of intellectually and physically disabled children deprived of parental care. These children were transferred from Kaspi orphanage. TFS team cares for them through medical, sport-developmental and social inclusion sub-programs. There are 24 children living in the village. 

• Educational Program – Based on the individual needs of each childe, the First Step team develops Individual Education Programs and learning curricula for each child. In accordance with the program children with disabilities get education in Tbilisi mainstream schools (6 children) and n the First Step day-care learning center (30 children). 

• Developmental program – Based on the individual skills of each child a team of professionals (psychologist, pediatrician, speech and occupation therapists, music and art therapists) has been working on the development of a child’s life skills and communication abilities to help their integration into society. This program serves children living in the Village and going to the First Step School 

• Reintegration and Prevention Program – First Step Social Workers have been working both on children’s social integration and solving their living problems. They were able to persuade biological families of 5 children to take back home their children from the Kaspi orphanage. Their efforts also enabled us to prevent leaving of 3 children in the orphanage. At the same time, addition, within the limits of the First Step, our social workers are trying to ensure the welfare of returned and reintegrated disabled children.

• Kaspi Orphanage Support Program – First Step monitors medical conditions of the residents of Kaspi orphanage (40 children and juveniles), supplies them with medicines, transfers children to the medical clinic in case of necessity, supervises their conditions. There are two sub-programs: provision of children and teachers at Kaspi orphanage with food and with heating of their bedrooms in winter. At the same time First Step social workers work with the family members of these children to restore and maintain contacts between the children and their families. 

• Professional Development Program – First Step provides care-takers (including parents) and teachers of intellectually and physically disabled children with preparation programs based on applied behavioral analysis, principles of child protection, individual development plans, managing challenging behavior and knowledge of basics of medicine. 

Besides these main programs, First Step plans to initiate new programs that are connected wth the needs of the country and fall under the framework of state reform for protecting children and deinstitutionalization. Planned programs are:
• Caring for children with severe intellectual and physical disabilities at homes, as well as work on development of their skills;
• Program on parents’ mobilization, training and consultations, aimed at strengthening the principle person in child care – a parent; 
• Development of Respite Centre envisaging temporary transfer of children with disabilities from homes to a respite care for the period agreed with the parent in advance;
• Kaspi Reorganization Program, implemented by the Ministry of Education and Sciences; First Step is actively involved in this undertaking. The aim of the program is to empty Kaspi orphanage, return children to their biological families or find foster parents for them, transfer remaining children to a medium size residence on the territory of the former Kojori orphanage. Within the framework of this program Kojori orphanage will be renovated to address specific needs of the children, staff will be trained to provide appropriate services. 

The First Step Foundation is Georgian charity organization, which takes care of children with intellectual and physical disabilities. The First Step center offers children and their families educational, developmental, medical, residential and social services.

You can help the First Step children in number of ways, such as:

• Make a one-off contribution;
• Make a regular donation on a monthly/quarterly basis;
• Contribute to our Foundation;
• Support one of our events;
• Organize your own event for us
• Supply children with toys, cloths, shoes, food, medicines, etc. 
• Any other assistance

Following information might be interesting for you:

Per child nourishment is USD 2 per day
Per child cloth and hygienic means - USD 1 per day
Per child medical cost - USD 1 per day
Per child additional medical treatment, surgical operations, medical examination and rehabilitation cost varies from USD 200 to USD 2,000
Per child study at school - USD 5 per day
Per child cost for reintegrated children - USD 3 per day
Transportation of 20 children to and from school by bus –USD 15 per day
Excursions, holidays, other educatonal-developmental and recreational activities – USD 20 per day


Matkopi Orphanage Tbilisi, Georgia


Martkopi currently looks after 28 children ages ranging from 6 to 17 and they currently have 7 girls living there. Most have been abandoned by their parents who simply cannot afford them, although many are from broken homes and/or have suffered some form of abuse.

The institution only receives the equivalent of less than £2 per child per week from the government. This money has to cover food, clothes, staff salaries, etc. The children learn skills such as painting, drawing, cooking and needlework while in the orphanage and produce items which they can sell to try and raise money for it.

They regularly go without running water and gas for long periods and occasionally run out of food for the children. We asked if there was anything in particular they wanted. They were delighted to receive anything, clothes, blankets, toys, stationery, books even food. Nothing would be refused.


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