Georgian street children to find life safety and opportunity

By Ana Chkhaidze
GEORGIA – Street children in Georgia will find safe shelter and the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential as a result of a recently launched World Vision project. The Laboratories of Learning (LOL) project will improve understanding of the issues surrounding Georgia’s street children, resulting in the design of more effective prevention and care models.
At present, reliable statistics on street children are hard to come by, as research of the phenomenon is limited. There are some 1,500 children living on the streets of Georgia and thousands of Georgian youth are at risk of becoming street kids, according to World Vision and other NGO reports.

The lack of dependable data on the number of at risk youth and on the existing services for street children heightens the urgency of the issue, though there are several NGOs working with these children.

The LOL project is addressing this problem by conducting comprehensive research of street children in Georgia. However, researching the topic is not a goal in itself. Its findings will inform the project design and implementation phase, which will take place in the second and third years of the project respectively.

The three-year project is in the first of three yearlong phases. The initial assessment phase aims to describe the phenomenon through the acquisition of relevant statistical data. The assessment phase involves interviewing street children in order to understand how they ended up on the street, what their lives are like, and how World Vision can help them find suitable shelter and brighter futures.

“The participation of street children in the assessment, design and intervention process is very important for us. We hope to create effective services by considering children’s interests first and foremost,” said Irina Javakhadze, LOL project manager.

World Vision is the first organization to conduct this kind of analysis in western Georgia; eastern Georgia has been studied by the NGO “Save the Children”. Working in western Georgia is critical, as previous World Vision projects revealed that most of the street children in Georgia’s capital city Tbilisi come from rural areas, particularly poor families in western Georgia.

World Vision is implementing the LOL project in partnership with John Hopkins and Tulane Universities, based on the Universities’ methodology.


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