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CARE in Georgia and Around the World

By David Jahng

On Oct. 16 the Embassy of Georgia hosted the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) Global Leaders Network, in efforts of shining a light on the struggles faced by internally displaced groups and refugees worldwide.

The program, founded in 1945 as a relief effort after WWII, now works in 94 countries promoting peace, prosperity, and shared values to foster global stability. At the beginning, CARE packages offered nourishment to Europeans struggling to survive the winters. Today, the project is more involved with creating a lasting future for those that need the extra help, said Ambassador Hansjörg Haber.

“This is an uphill battle, we have to first establish trust,” said Haber. “Without the framework of security, it isn’t the real thing.”

CARE grew larger as it continued its work, and now the U.S., Britain and Germany are all important contributors to humanitarian NGOs, including American Civil Liberties Union, the Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies, and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. During the reception on Oct. 16, Haber received the CARE Global Leaders Network Humanitarian Award for his efforts on peace and democracy around the world.

Beth Solomon presents the CARE Global Leaders Network Humanitarian Award to Ambassador Hansjörg Haber for his efforts on peace and democracy around the world. Photo: Neshan H. Naltchayan

Since Georgia declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States has been a crucial helper and provider for Georgia as “the assistance of the U.S. is crucial to [their] continued independence,” said Georgian Ambassador David Bakradze.

This relationship has been described as “more important than ever” by the Georgian Embassy, who believes that, with the Trump Administration, the Georgian Government will find a just peaceful resolution to the Georgian-Russian conflict.

Beth Solomon, managing director at CARE, emphasized the work CARE has done in the Caucasus region of Eurasia since 1988 and their early response to armed conflicts in the region. Solomon said CARE’s projects saved the lives of 70,000 internally displaced Georgian people following the war.

Yet, there are some discrepancies regarding the future of U.S. support on foreign aid. Following the “America First” agenda, President Trump has pushed repeatedly to cut the financial support to other nations. With this $3.5 billion roll-back, countries around the world could be affected and deprived of incentives like humanitarian aid.

Sofia Gegechkori speaks of her personal experience of displacement in Georgia, when she was forced to leave her motherland while leaving behind family members. Photo: Neshan H. Naltchayan

With the traditional American legacy of support under threat, the CARE Global Leaders Network was created to highlight the importance of humanitarian and development aid for U.S. national security and global stability. 

Sofia Gegechkori, communications counselor at the Embassy of Georgia, had a firsthand experience of the wartime horrors that plagued Georgia. Gegechkori, a Georgian native, was forced to leave her motherland, becoming a member of the “generation in exile.” Speaking through tears, she recalled how family members were left behind with no sustainable income, starving and dying.

Gegechkori believes humanitarian aid was vital for the survival of refugees. She saw CARE provide self-growth opportunities, educate the youth and present grown-ups with jobs.

“CARE was there when we needed it most,” said Gegechkori. “CARE provided not just food, but a future.”

Ambassador Hansjörg Haber, Ambassador of Georgia David Bakradze, Tamara Schukakidze and Beth Solomon were speakers at the CARE Global Leaders Network in hopes of highlighting the struggles of refugees around the world. Photo: Neshan H. Naltchayan

CARE created programs in Georgia such as “Gvirila,” an association for women with disabilities. A short film was shown at the event, in which women expressed the power and confidence Gvirila gave them after their struggles. The women said their work gave them purpose, making them feel useful again.

Although CARE has helped many around the world, there are still 65 million people displaced or seeking refuge.

Tamara Shukakidze-Demuria, director of Humanitarian Practice, has been part of CARE for 15 years. Over the past decade she has worked to create programs for water and sanitation, security and maternal and child health. At the reception, Shukakidze-Demuria received the Humanitarian Award for her work managing large-scale community investments in the Caucasus, Nigeria and Haiti.

Shukakidze-Demuria holds herself accountable to raise awareness about humanitarian programming outside of the United States, as many suffer from lack of access to services and basic human rights. One of CARE’s mottos is to deliver lasting change, and it is the organization’s role to provide the necessities around the world, she said.

“You can give a fish to a person and it will feed him or her for a day, but you can teach a person to fish and it can be a lasting impact on his or her life,” Shukakidze said. “And I guess this is what we’re striving to do, make a difference in 90 plus countries of the world.”

David Jahng is an editorial intern for The Washington Diplomat.




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