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Georgian authorities are blind to problems2012-09-07 16:04
Not far from the railroad station in Tbilisi, near the stadium "Dynamo", sometimes you can find a young blind woman. She comes here several times a week, sets the synthesizer and plays Georgian melodies. Then, having taken heart, she begins to sing. But if I was led here by the blind chance, my visit to the Blind Union of Georgia was purposeful - I was going to learn more about the life of this layer of the Georgian society.
Officially the Union of the Blind includes 3500 people from all over Georgia. Earlier they were divided into invalids of the first and second groups, but now there is no such division. There is another classification, which is used in Georgia. Literally translated from the Georgian it sounds like: people with pronounced and indistinct blindness.
The building of the Union of the Blind is located in one of the central parts of Tbilisi, this is a Soviet-built two-story house. Potted flowers at the entrance, friendly woman at the reception, long narrow corridors - all of this is completely devoid of cold and officious atmosphere of government agencies. Each employee is performing his part. Chairman of the Union Frion Lobzhanidze shared with us the details of inner life of the organization.
- Tell us at what expense the Blind Union exists and operates?
- I must say not at the government's expense. Earlier there were the factories where exclusively blind people worked, but now the equipment is obsolete; we cannot produce quality products on such equipment. So everything stands idle. But the territories of these plants and factories, as well as the buildings themselves, are under our department. We live on earnings from leasing our estate. For example, the building of three universities in Tbilisi. Incidentally, the second floor of the building in which we is now being rented out to "New Rights" for five thousand. We also have a membership fee, so we pay the salary to our workers from this money. Those who regularly made contributions during 50 years, they receive 10 GEL in addition to their pensions, those who made contributions more than 60 years - 15 GEL. Each needy member of our Union gets 9 GEL per month. We also help families with blind children - we allocate 30 lari for each child until he is 18 years old.
- I have seen several times on the streets or in public transport blind people accompanied by persons who are not their relatives. Are these people from your organization?
- No. This is City Hall's program providing guide to every blind person. By the way, in fact this is not true. Some people have to pay for these services out of their own revenues.