In Ruins
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Twenty five years after the fall of the Soviet Union, many Georgians are still adjusting to life in the new economy. On the outskirts of Georgia’s capital, Tblisi, an abandoned military hospital from the bygone era serves as a refuge to some one hundred and fifty families unable to find jobs and affordable housing. Refugees from the 1992-1993 Abkhazia war have used the seven-story complex as a shelter for the past two decades. Local government pays little attention to the building, and when they do it’s to cut off electricity and water which residents have diverted through a jerry-rigged lattice of wires and pipes. Modern Georgian society as a whole, seems to be willfully overlooking the soviet architecture littered across the city, trying to forget a past which still crumbles before their eyes.


Ia (pronounced eye-a) Ochianri, mother of two, is often alone with her children while her husband looks for work in nearby Russia.
Nikoloz Beriashuli, 2, sleeps in the concrete room he shares with his mother, father and sister.
Maia Daiquiri, 45, prepares a vacant room for her and her children. She’s lived in the building since being displaced during the 1992-1993 war with Abkhazia.
A conch shell serves as shelter to a lone minnow.
Many residents feel left behind by the market economy which Georgia adopted after the fall of the Soviet Union. Older residents speak with nostalgia of being ‘taken care of’ and having a sense of stability they now lack.
A pet dog on a chain in one of the rooms. Residents scavenge flooring and wallpaper to convert the concrete spaces into a livable environment.
“We do not live here, we only survive” - Lela Qachibai
A view of Tblisi from the fourth floor of the old hospital.



Georgia is stuck between the east and the west geographically and politically.

•Fastest growing economy in the region - 11% growth in GDP 2014-2015.

•Food costs approximately 300 lari per month.

•The government provides 45-60 lari assistance per individual.

•The governmental provided housing costs 300 Lari per month.

•Children and adults are in need of expensive medical care.

•The government sometimes cuts off water and electricity that residents have diverted from the grid.

•Each election year candidates propose tearing down the building and developing it.

•Faulty wiring once caused a fire that killed a young boy a few years ago.

•Children who don't go to school past the age 12, help their family by begging on subways.

•Adults lack education and skills needed to compete in the economy.

•Most rooms occupied have windows and a wood stove.

•Water is provided by hoses to each floor.

•Material (flooring, wallpaper, windows, sinks, appliances) is scavenged to create a "home like" environment.



This material was originally published on BBC.COM


Chai Khana
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