For three months, Chai-Khana has brought you the stories of people across the region who are overcoming fear. Over the course of 32 feature stories, and dozens of short creative documentaries and photo projects, our contributors have captured the determination, drive and strength of people in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia as they survive conflict, fight displacement and search for better lives for themselves and their children.
My grandparent’s house, where I used to spend my summer holidays, always seemed scary to me. When I recall my childhood, I remember feeling fear and loneliness, mixed with a sense of mysticism. There was a time when I perceived objects as living things. I also imagined that my childhood home was very far from the rest of the world, standing alone in the backwoods.
This project is about TV shows - their addictive, drug-like nature and how I dealt with it. Here reality merges with the TV world and, as a result, we get something ugly, scary and mystical. Like seeing 22 episodes in a day.
Portrait is a short video story about a 46-year-old man, who shares a long, communal room in Bediani Psychiatric Hospital with 40 other patients. For some reason this man with his distinct fear to paint a self-portrait stuck in my memory for a long time.
A UN report found that domestic violence in Azerbaijan is widespread. A 2014 study shows that 43 percent of women have experienced domestic violence, and in 29 percent of the cases, the abuser was the victim’ spouse. The report underscores that there is a lack of proper government services for victims. It has also notes there are severe shortcomings in the implementation of the law that should protect the victims of domestic violence. “Sometimes when women call police, it does not help. Their husbands can be arrested for a short period, but when they are free, they repeat the same behavior and are violent again.”
19-year-old Aysel and 22-year-old Gunash are from conservative, predominantly ethnic Azerbaijani communities in Georgia’s Kvemo Kartli. The communities are largely isolated from the rest of Georgian society because they do not speak Georgian. That isolation has created a closed community that is slow to adopt changes in social mores, like accepting women’s right to lead an independent life.
The story about overcoming personal fear of losing someone.
For a quarter of a century I had done everything to be a “smart girl.” I had the “perfect” job, I was the “good” daughter. But instead of being happy, my life felt like it was in shambles. My relationship with my parents was strained and I felt trapped in my job. I felt stifled by the expectations of my family and society.
Aygepar is a village located near the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. It is in a valley, and was often fired on by Azerbaijani troops. The children of the village kindly invited me to document their world.
She was 25, living at home, struggling to find her place in her tiny village. He was on Facebook, ready to listen to her needs, her wants, her fears. She spent hours, days, weeks, months with him. They spoke of dreams, they exchanged photographs. He was the perfect boyfriend. She felt like she was destined to be with him… until the blackmail began.
Sixteen-year-old Alex struggles to find his place in conservative Armenian society. Many people do not accept him, or his style of dressing: his dyed hair, face tattoos and clothing are seen as an affront to traditional values.