The first stage of environmental clean-ups, initiated by the environmental charity organization Sadagi, the team of the National Teachers’ Award, and the finalist award-nominee teachers, kicked off on October 18.
Clean-up activities were held in 11 municipalities throughout Georgia: in Senaki, Chkhorotsku, Martvili, Kutaisi, Gori, Kaspi, Tbilisi, Marneuli, Telavi, Akhmeta and Ninotsminda. A total of 1027 pupils from 24 participating schools contributed to the successful completion of the first stage of the series. Each event selected and conducted by the teachers and students is worthy of celebration and coverage. Due to their abundance, however, we can tell you about only a few schools at this stage.
The village of Khojorni in Marneuli municipality was a pleasant discovery for the Sadagi team. We were convinced, once again, that many of us do not know enough about the beauty and grace of Kvemo Kartli. The village is at an altitude of 800 meters, surrounded by forested hills, arable fields and pastures. Along with fruit trees, there are many beautiful walnut, hackberry and pine trees in the village.
Khojorni seemed cleaner than many villages in Georgia. Despite the relative orderliness of the area, though, there was quite a lot of work for pupils there, and so, under the leadership of teacher Lali Margiani, 32 pupils, seven teachers and two Sadagi members got involved in the clean-up. Pleasant, hardworking and humble children and adults live in Khojorni, all of whom showed heart-warming zeal in cleaning up their village. The pupils collected hundreds of kilos of litter, and committed to continuing the clean-up in the future. We ended our visit with a small picnic at the village stadium and a backgammon game with Anar, an enthusiastic and enterprising local teacher.
The Givi Zaldastanishvili American Academy in Tbilisi is one of the most prominent schools in Georgia. Some 150 students got involved in the clean-up event in the extensive parking lot near Lisi Lake and in the adjacent forest park. Before cleaning up, we had a small talk about the importance of leadership using the current Rugby World Cup as an example.
We found Lisi, one of the most popular recreational areas of Tbilisi, sadly quite polluted. The multitude of cans of paint scattered around the cable tower were particularly disappointing. Volunteer street artists have created a lot of graffiti on the walls there, and while the beauty of their works is controversial, the paint cans they left there are not to anybody’s liking. But the enthusiasm of the students of the American Academy took away the gloom of the sight as we set to clearing it up. The school team – the pupils, teachers and administrators, took the task to heart and made a great contribution to making Tbilisi a cleaner city.
In the city of Kaspi, we visited teacher Nino Niparishvili, the finalist of this year’s National Teachers’ Award. We had first met her at the recent award-ceremony, where she shared her story of having, jointly with the school children, transformed a former soviet militia building into an Occupation Museum.
Kaspi is a small town surrounded by villages near the occupation line, yet it seems that Kaspi pupils’ enthusiasm has only been increased by any feelings of uneasiness coming from their proximity to the occupants: by the time of our arrival, 92 students had already started the cleaning-up process, and we found some trash cans already filled to the brim!
The zeal of the children exceeded our expectations. The working gloves we had sent them were not enough for the bigger-than-planned number of volunteers. But the lack of resources was no hindrance to the Kaspi pupils: They shared out the gloves so they all had one each! Wind and rain also failed to hold them back from cheerfully cleaning several streets around the school. It was all we could do to convince them to go back to the school, where we had a small picnic together!
We visited the museum of occupation while there, an impressive project. We believe that in a school where there is a museum of occupation and pupils share gloves with each other, the children will undoubtedly grow up with a special love for their homeland.
31 students, three teachers and two parents participated in the clean-up of Akhkerpi village in Marneuli municipality. Children started cleaning their village with great determination and enthusiasm. The main roads, footpaths, trees, bushes and the surrounding area of the school were cleared of litter. Although this was their first clean-up, the Akhkerpelians quickly grasped the importance of cleaning up their environment. A painful fact for the teachers and the pupils is that the village does not have a regular garbage collection service. There is hope, however, that following the reparation of the road leading to Akhkerpi, the village will be included in the local waste management chain.
Akhkerpi public school teacher Nariman Melikidze, who led the clean-up, said: “I keep reminding the children that there is no such thing as cleanliness at home if there is litter outside.” We talked a lot with him. Although he says he prefers a person to perform one task thoroughly rather than many less thoroughly, Nariman himself manages to teach four subjects at the school and is one of its leaders in extracurricular activities.
Pupils of the public school of the Khidistavi village of Gori municipality, members of the local Eco Club “Little Environmental Defenders” and teachers Lia Giuashvili and Tina Pkhaladze, enthusiastically participated in the cleaning of their village. 55 students engaged in the action, cleaning the area around the school as well as the village sports field.
We were very happy that the children recognized Dato and Tazo, members of the Sadagi team, and sincerely assured us that tidying up the environment is no less important to them than to us. The little ones saw that it is difficult to clean areas polluted by litter, and they quickly realized that if we do not litter in the first place, there will be no need to overcome the challenge of cleaning up. The children collected a large amount of garbage and placed it in a specially designated place, then we had a picnic in the school yard. The pupils of Khudistavi school have big plans for the future, foreseeing tidying up becoming an integral part of their lives.
The next round of simultaneous clean-up events will take place in November. We have three more tours planned for 2024. At the final stage of cleaning-up, we expect the participation of over 100 schools in all municipalities of Georgia.