Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Caucasus: Jul ‘08

IWPR radio programme reportedly prompts Georgian authorities to house homeless family.
A homeless woman and her two grandchildren have been given a home and a monthly allowance by the authorities, apparently after officials heard about their plight on a radio show produced by IWPR.

The programme, Accent, featured the story of Nunu Pataraia and her orphaned grandchildren, who had been living in a public lavatory in the heart of Lanchkhuti in Guria region for two years, after she had sold her house to pay for medical treatment for her grandson.

“I fed my orphans with some of the money people paid for using the toilet,” said Pataraia, who moved into the new one-bedroom flat several days ago.

Pataraia said she’d repeatedly contacted the authorities about her situation, but to no avail.

“I lost the count of the times I applied to the Lanchkhuti municipality, asking them for help, but the local officials ignored my requests,” she said.

While her desperate situation attracted some media attention, it was not until the IWPR radio programme covered the story that her fortunes changed, she said.

“Unlike the officials, local journalists often came to see me. They wrote a lot about us, but their efforts came to nothing. This was the case until IWPR took interest in our problem. First, we were given clothes and money, and then the Lanchkhuti administration purchased a flat for my grandchildren,” she continued.

Georgian officials said that they acted as soon as they heard of the case.

“We are ready to help anyone out,” said head of the municipality Gia Goguadze. “We only need to be informed. We’ve been cooperating with journalists with pleasure, and the story of the Pataraia family is a vivid example of this.”

After the report was aired, members of the Georgian Journalists Federation were the first to react.

Giorgi Siradze, the author of the report, personally handed Pataraia the 200 Georgian laris (141 US dolars) and clothes contributed by Tbilisi journalists.

“Pataraia’s problem was covered extensively by Guria’s newspapers, but only after the Institute for War and Peace Reporting took an interest in it did the local authorities move to help the children sheltered in a toilet,” said Giorgi Siradze, Accent reporter from the town of Ozurgeti in the west.

The twice-monthly programme Accent is produced as part of IWPR’s Georgia Regional Media Network Project, involving journalists from around the country and unrecognised territories.

It is broadcast by four popular radio stations in Georgia, and is aimed at improving the flow of news and information to the country’s regions and breakaway territories.

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