A girl from Tbilisi drawing...Sunshine through the leaves
A story of a child growing up in SOS children's Village Tbilisi:
SOS has been working in Tbilisi, Georgia, since 1996. This is a story about a child who grew up with SOS Children called Dato. It shows how the support of SOS, coupled with an intelligent and cheerful child, can lead to a successful and inspirational life story emerging from a poor and under-privileged background:
Dato came to live in the house of SOS mother Lia in SOS Children's Village Tbilisi soon after he turned five. He was the first in the Lia's home and among the first ones in the village as well. "Ah, it was lonely for me," says Dato. "I couldn't wait for other children to come like mom Lia was telling me."
Dato remembers his childhood as a happy one. "We are a very close family," he says. "My mom was the one who brought us together and made us always stick to each other. I am very lucky to have such a big family. We respect each other's space, but also keep each other's back. I am close to all my SOS siblings."
At fifteen Dato moved to the SOS Youth Facility in Tbilisi where he still lives. "It didn't feel like a move, but as going to a place where I belong. I had good life in the village, but needed space to become more independent and self-reliant. I adapted in no-time and enjoy every second of my life."
His schooling, however, didn't go as he hoped it would. "I enrolled to Aviation College hoping to be trained for an airline dispatcher. But, there weren't enough students to form a class, so the school transferred us to secondary law school. It was too late to change, so I finished it. I have a degree to work as legal clerk. For anything more, like a lawyer, I need to finish the Faculty of Law, but this is not my calling."
During his schooling, Dato worked a number of jobs. "Every summer, every winter holiday or whenever my school tasks would allow me, I would work. I was working as cook in a pizzeria; I held a job at a marketing agency and stayed longest at a mobile phones repair shop. I'm pretty good at repairing mobiles, so I still do it on the side. The money is good. I believe a person must know how to do many things to afford a good life."
When it comes to his future profession, Dato drops a surprise. "I passed the entry exam for the Veterinary Faculty," he smiles. "I realize it's totally different from what I have been studying so far and miles away from my working experience. Living here in the youth facility and the counselling I am getting from my educators, gave me a chance to explore my interests.'
"I gave it much thought and carefully made my decision. I start my studies this October and hope to graduate in four years. I love animals and I love to take care of animals. I have healed and cared for many stray cats and dogs in the village, so I know I made the right choice. Who knows, maybe some of my friends from the youth facility will be my patients too," Dato laughs revealing his healthy sense of humour.
Dato's energy source lately has been the regular workouts in the local fitness club. "I work out five times a week. At the beginning it was bit hard, but now I'm feeling great. My school friends who work out with me had to make some dietary changes, but not me. We eat very healthy and diverse organic food in the youth facility," he nods. "Doing sports is an excellent way to gain extra energy and preserve a sound mind. I get rid of all negative energy at the gym and feel strong. That's how I hope I will manage to study and work."
Dato plans to work throughout his studies as much as his obligations allow him. "I will have fully booked days at the university, but on weekend I can have part-time jobs. I am entering the semi-independent living programme next year. I will live in rented flat with some of my friends from the youth facility. I want to work to decrease my financial dependency on SOS [Children's Villages]. I have been given marvellous opportunities until now and I think my time comes to give back."