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Story and Photos by Maka Kapanadze | Project Assistant | Heifer Georgia
The Kakheti region of Georgia is famous for wine made from its unique grape species, and the fertile village of Eniseli still provides the juicy and delicious grapes to make the famous Georgian wine. A brandy made of hand-picked grapes harvested from the area was even named after the village.
Despite the potential of being one of the region’s top brandy producers, most people in Eniseli live in poverty. This is due to many external and internal problems that do not allow for adequate income. Most villagers are unemployed, and younger generations have left the community in search of work in the capital city of Tbilisi. The village is slowly emptying.
To combat these obstacles, Heifer International implemented the Assistance to Charity House Network in East Georgia project in 2010. The project holder operates a network of charity houses and free canteens in the region. Heifer’s support has allowed the organization to renovate its small hog farm. The animals supply daily food rations to the canteens, are sold to procure staple food items for the canteens, or are passed on to other project participants.
Vazha Tsatsanahvili lives in Eniseli with his wife Leila, three children and five grandchildren. The entire family lives in one house and the only stable income is from Vazha’s daughter-in-law, who works part-time as a laundress. Her monthly income is about $35.
“The family hardly survives with the salary of my daughter-in-law and seasonal work of my husband, who gets $9 per day,” Leila said. “And this only happens in the spring and autumn when there is work in the vineyards.”
The family has a small garden where they grow beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and other vegetables, but constant drought and heavy hail prevented them from preparing winter preserves. Vazha and Leila often dream of running a small animal farm, but they would have to save for years before they could afford their first animal.
“With Heifer appearing, mercy fell upon my family and we received two piglets,” Leila said. “It was really unexpected joy and happiness. Now they are already big sows with offspring and we have so many plans. We are going to keep the sows and start a small farm with their offspring. Compared to the breeds we used to have, Heifer sows are of higher quality and productivity. They provide multiple offspring and grow very fast.”
The cost of buying bread is currently too high for the family, but Leila hopes to sell piglets to buy flour and fat. She will then bake bread twice a week in her clay oven.
“Now we do everything with more enthusiasm,” Leila said. “We see our future in the proper perspective. Thanks to Heifer we are on the right course; now we know that each day will be better than the previous.”