Recognizing Women: Leading Charity Initiatives in Georgia

On this International Women’s Day, CNEWA recognizes the contributions of women to our mission in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable throughout the world. Today, and for the rest of March, we are highlighting the stories of women in CNEWA’s world, as told in ONE magazine and on our blog through the years.  

Today, as protests against a proposed new law take hold in Georgia, we turn our attention to Anahit Mkhoyan, the director of Caritas Georgia. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Mkhoyan wrote about her visit with children and beneficiaries, in full protective gear and with social distancing. She wrote: “A Caritas vocation calls for us to be close, to listen, and to be present physically, remaining with those who suffer. But social distancing makes this all especially difficult, even artificial. It challenges our vocation, our call to be a Christian and our very humanity.”

Below is an excerpt from her “Letter From Georgia” that ran in the Summer 2020 edition of ONE. The full letter may be accessed here.

Dear friends,

It was a day in time! I was driving across the border, leaving my beloved family in Armenia to return to my beloved work in Georgia, to be among the people who I am humbled to serve as the director of Caritas in Georgia. Normally, the border crossing is full of cars and people. Not now. It was totally empty. My heart seemed to stop for a moment as I sat behind the steering wheel and assessed my environment. As I stepped out of the car and walked to the customs office, I began to think how we as human beings think we can control everything. Until in one moment, when something uncontrollable happens, we become so helpless and fragile.

The border police checked my documents and escorted me to my home in Tbilisi, where I am now in self-quarantine. The roads were full of police and military personnel as the town of Marneuli, which is located along the way from the frontier to the Georgian capital city, remains in lockdown. The police escort and the military check points reminded me of the war movies I had watched as a child…

There are children of Caritas, boys and girls who benefit from our many social service programs, who live at the Caritas center, where my home is located. These are “my children.” Before the pandemic, every time I saw them, they would run to me, hug me, talk to me. And that meant so much. This time, after being with my husband and daughters in Armenia, and escorted by the police to ensure my quarantine in Tbilisi, I had to escape my children to avoid contact. But they were hesitant to approach me; they had been warned already of the danger of approaching me.

To be “dangerous” is not a pleasant feeling. It was awkward, and my heart skipped a beat for another moment that day…

We have learned that, at the end of the day, everything is in God’s hands — and not in ours.

The charism of Caritas is the belief that every human being is of value, and that we have to serve them unconditionally. Now is the moment, when times are uncertain and fear grips our hearts, that we serve the poorest of the poor, trusting in the mercy and love of God, and clinging to the hope that all this will come to an end soon.

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