Givi Kavlashvili, 71, lost everything he had in the war last August, including his son who was killed while working in the forest. Kavlashvili lived a somewhat happy life in the Kemerti village outside of Gori with a large house and one hectare of land.
“I would agree to live outside under the sky if only my son was alive,” Kavlashvili said.
Now he lives in the former military settlement Koda, approximately 20 kilometers from Tbilisi. He and his family are one of 554 families who now call Koda home.
When the war broke out, Kemerti was shelled heavily. Kavlashvili’s home was hit by a bomb on Aug. 7.
“We managed to stay one night and were able to wait out the situation, but the next day was unbearable and we headed to Tbilisi,” he said. “We lived in a kindergarten in the Mukhiani suburb for four months and then we were offered housing in Koda.”
When comparing life before and after the war, Kavlashvili said it is incomparable.
He lost his house, garden and everything he worked for his entire life. He not only suffered material loss, but also emotional stress. He survived two heart attacks and a heart operation in the last 12 months.
Even today, after a year, Kavlashvili gets emotional when describing the Aug. 7 events.
“When the shelling started, the situation in our neighborhood was bad,” he said. “It is hard to describe what was happening to my family and our neighbors. When the house was ruined we were all in panic and decided to go to Tbilisi. We could not stand it anymore – physically or emotionally.”
Kavlashvili has lived in a two-room apartment in Koda for the past 8 months in a building that once served as a military settlement and was repaired for IDPs.
Despite everything, he tries to stay calm, but cannot help remembering the past.
“We are offered help and regularly given flour, pasta, oil and other food,” Kavlashvili said. “But it is not even a tenth of what I used to have in Kemerti – the garden, the house… Now I am just a retired man.”
Life in Koda can be described as calm and stunted, as most IDP’s do not work, although many seek jobs in Tbilisi. People spend their days outside chatting.
Despite his loss, Kavlashvili is already used to his new life. He tries to stay active and does not let himself get down. But he would give everything to spend at least one more night in his old home the way he used to live, he said.
The article was published for Georgia Today August 7, 2009 issue.