By Jennifer Brookland
Deaf Georgians in need may not speak loudly, but their words of thanks are heard.
Amiran Batatunashvili, President of the Union of Deaf of Georgia, welcomed Counterpart International and a delegation of other supporters and partners to his organization’s Tbilisi headquarters, and acknowledged them for their steadfast support.
“The people of our union cannot speak loud,” says Batatunashvili, “but you can see their appreciation for your support in their brightened eyes.”
Jerry Oberndorfer, the U.S. State Department’s Director of Humanitarian Programs, Lisa Lashinski, from the U.S. Embassy in Georgia, and Irakli Saralidze, Counterpart’s Country Program Director, were among the visitors.
They toured the organization’s community center, computer labs, classrooms (used for sign language instruction and dance classes) and offices used by fellow grantee hellenicare, which provides free medical examinations and pharmaceuticals.
Oberndorfer, Lashinski and Saralidze also distributed rice, soup and school kits. The items were donated by Counterpart and two other Department of State grantees, ACTS Georgia and the United Methodist Committee On Relief.
The Union of Deaf of Georgia serves more than 2,700 deaf, invalid, orphaned, sick, physically disabled and elderly people as well as large, low-income families in Tbilisi and regions of Georgia.
Most struggle with unemployment or rely on low-income jobs or meager pensions. They are indeed the “neediest beneficiaries,” says Batatunashvili.
The support Counterpart provides helps the Union distribute clothing and food, giving families the opportunity to spend money on other needs, such as medical services.
The local organization has been supporting the country’s deaf community since 2002, facilitating workshops focused on education and community-building, sponsoring health clinics, and distributing essential humanitarian aid like food and warm clothing. It has been receiving humanitarian assistance commodities from Counterpart and distributing them to beneficiaries throughout Georgia since 2002.
The assistance was made possible through Counterpart’s Community and Humanitarian Program (CHAP), which is funded by the U.S. Department of State and has operated in Georgia for nearly two decades. The program distributes food, shelter items, clothing, furniture, and medical equipment to vulnerable populations throughout the country.