HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia
10+ still images available in color
Created May 2019
The break-up of Soviet Union in the early 1990s was accompanied by rise of ethnic tensions in many former Soviet States. Ethno-political wars erupted forcing more than 280,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) to flee their homes. The Russian-Georgian war of 2008 centering on the issue of South Ossetia resulted in another wave of displacement. Today, most of the IDPs are being prevented from safe and dignified return to their places of origin. Many of the refugees are stateless which means they lack basic documents like a passport or a national ID card. This prevents them and their children from going to school or getting proper health care. NGOs like the IRC in Georgia are working to raise attention on this issue on national and international level, as well as assisting stateless persons in the country by providing legal support.
Qeti learns to play the piano under the patient gaze of her mother, Nana. They are IDPs from South Ossetia who arrived in the Tserovani Refugee Settlement in 2008.
Nana was pregnant with Qeti when she arrived in the settlement and gave birth to Qeti at the settlement's basic but serviceable clinic.
This is the Tserovani Community Center which has the only piano in the settlement and where Qeti come several times a week for piano lessons.
Outside, Qeti's brother, Dato rides a bicycle on loan from the Community Center.
Down the road, Qeti's father, Levan sells fresh produce from the boot of his car.
Qeti's uncle, Vakho waits at the local bus stop, hopeful for itinerant work.
After waiting all these years to return to their home in South Ossetia, the family has begun resigning to the idea that this 57 sqm temporary abode might well be their permanent home.
There are 2,000 identical temporary abodes in Tserovani, families in similar if not identical situations to Qeti's.