Story and photo by Zaur Chartolani, project leader
The large Jachvliani family received a mare in September 2010. Before the family got their horse, Edward and Olya’s oldest son George rented a mare from a neighbor in order to provide horse trekking services to tourists. It was George, a mountain guide and experienced horse rider, who encouraged his family to join the Heifer project. Being a guide is a very popular business in the mountainous Svaneti region and often the only cash income families can earn in an entire year. Without proper quality animals for the job, most families rely on old riding horses, which greatly hinders the development of this highly profitable business. Edward is a seasonal worker for a local road construction firm. With inconsistent earnings, George’s additional income was always very helpful. Now, with his own horse, George can do his job without paying rent for the use of a neighbor’s horse. He has become more enthusiastic about his work and is benefiting from the huge stream of tourists eager to use horses trekking services in the summer. George’s income is increasing yearly, which helps his parents and grandparents take better care of his two younger siblings, 2-year-old Anastasia and 3-year-old Davit. Anastasia and Davit like to help their big brother take care of the horse, giving it all the necessary food and treatment to make sure it stays healthy and strong.
A severe mountainous climate with long winters and low temperatures doesn’t come with many options for agricultural activities, so the Jachvliani family budget is built mainly on small-scale animal farming. These activities include heavy labor, especially when the family has to transport hay from high steep mountains. The mare provided a great relief for Olya, as she uses the horse in agricultural tasks as a means of transportation. Overall, the family received a helper in their household, which allows them to look further, have bold plans and be positive about their future. The family is a shining example in the community. The horse has already produced an offspring, which will be grown up and passed on to another family, who will soon be as happy as the Jachvilianis.
“My family is large,” Olya said. “I have a husband and three children. Two of them are underage. My husband’s parents, Vakhtang and Ketino, also live with us. The only person who earned money in our family was my husband and his salary was hardly enough to feed our children. My eldest son decided to support our family and he hired a horse for trekking that is so popular among the tourists in Svaneti. Though the community horses were very old and not attractive for clients, the rent was very high and thus this business became unprofitable. But Heifer came as a savior to my family, now we have our own horse and my son is able to develop his own business. Some time ago, I could only dream about that; now it is reality. God bless those kind people who made my children so happy. Our horse has already had a foal. We shall grow it up and then pass it to another family. This is great charity. I am very happy that Heifer gave me chance to make another family as happy as I am now. This is a great feeling.”