Ia Dzirkvadze teaches English and Georgian in Gumbati, a village 20 kilometres from the municipality centre of Tsalka.
Gumbati has been a refuge for people in need for over a century, first providing a home for Greeks immigrating from Turkey and now for eco-migrants resettling from landslide areas in Adjara.
The village was originally inhabited by ethnic Georgians but it was deserted by the time Greek immigrants arrived in the 19th century. There is a legend that the name of the village, Gumbati, is actually derived from a Turkish word that means the place where the sun sets.
Ethnic Greeks made it their home for over a century but during the turmoil of the 1990s, they left Georgia en masse and the village was deserted again.
In 1998, however, a new population arrived to Gumbati when the Georgian government chose the village as the new home for resettled eco-migrants. Now 140 families live in the village, mostly from Georgia’s autonomous region of Adjara.
But despite the resettled families, Gumbati is still small and remote, and Ia fears that if she leaves the village, no one will come to take her place.
Journeys, December/January 2018/2019