Bank of Georgia: Changing Public Attitude towards Disabled People is Crucial 

Bank of Georgia: Changing Public Attitude towards Disabled People is Crucial 

Bank of Georgia: Changing Public Attitude towards Disabled People is Crucial 

The FINANCIAL -- Bank of Georgia together with the development company m2 is the only business to have started funding the development of ramps for disabled people in Georgia. In total nine key avenues and streets will be adapted for disabled people by 15 November. Meanwhile, Georgian society has appeared less than respectful to the ongoing work as they have already damaged the ramps by carelessly using them for gaining access to pavements.

Within the scope of the project the pavements of the following avenues: Chavchavadze, Melikishvili, Pekini, Kazbegi, and the following streets: Kostava, Shartava, Jikia and Kavtaradze, will become fully adapted for use by disabled persons. A total of 650 ramps will be built. For this initiative the Bank has issued GEL 200,000.

“We have spent over GEL 1 million on projects to help disabled people. GEL 200,000 was an additional sum that we issued for this specific project,” said Irakli Gilauri, CEO at Bank of Georgia.

The ramps will be constructed in line with EU standards. The project is being coordinated by the foundation Tree of Life. It has been initiated by the organization SocCodex Group.

“We addressed a lot of businessmen and asked for their cooperation in this direction. However, none of them showed any initiative. At that time Tree of Life launched a grant competition. As development company m2 financed our initiative, at present we are lucky to be increasing the number of projects. Currently we are adapting nine streets with the support of Bank of Georgia,” Tato Mirotadze, Founder of SocCodex Group, told The FINANCIAL.

SocCodex was established in 2012. The company researches social problems, and according to the results of which it prioritize its projects. “We are implementing a variety of projects. During the period of our research we often met with people who were not able to move around freely. Thus was born the idea to adapt one of the largest avenues in Tbilisi for use by all citizens,” said Mirotadze.

“There are 500 volunteers involved with our company. As a result, our work has minimal expenditure. The measurement drawings, permits obtained from City Hall, work with building materials and much more is all being done by volunteers, so costs are very low,” he added.

The Tree of Life Foundation of Bank of Georgia is currently working on 24 different projects. “We call for every businessman to join this initiative,” said Tornike Guruli, Director at Tree of Life Foundation.

“The ramps are often being damaged by members of the population as people drive their cars over them. I would call on all drivers and people to stop driving their vehicles over the ramps and to stop using them as means to access the pavement,” said Guruli.

“It is very important that we, together with representatives of the media, try to enhance public attitude and awareness. We are a united community and disabled persons are a part of this society. We should therefore do our best to help them integrate and to break down the existing marginalization,” Guruli added.

A discriminative act towards disabled people occurred in Tbilisi recently when a group of citizens suggested that there should be separate parks for disabled children.

Disability Rights International, an international human rights organization based in Washington, DC, released a report documenting atrocious human rights violations in Georgia’s orphanages and institutions for persons with disabilities, at the end of the previous year. The report was the product of a three-year investigation by disability experts and health professionals from the United States. According to the report, infants and children are left to die without medical care or pain medication at the Tbilisi infants home, a practice that constitutes torture under international law. Medical experts say the squalid conditions and lack of care in Georgia’s orphanages and institutions contribute to increased disability, high rates of mortality, and avoidable deaths. Improperly stripped of legal rights, parents with disabilities are separated from their children who are raised in other institutions. Georgia’s laws prevent victims of abuse who are detained in these institutions from seeking justice. 

“There is an urgent need for the Government of Georgia to save its children with disabilities from these abusive environments and to provide opportunities for them to live in the community,” said Eric Rosenthal, the Executive Director of Disability Rights International.