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Caritas Georgia provides crafts skills training for sixty young people from underprivileged backgrounds – in particular, the fine art of icon production – helping them to discover new confidence for the future.
Since 2000, Caritas Georgia has worked to establish a State-recognized centre for craft skills training in Tbilissi. Today, the association is focusing on a specialist skill indigenous to the region and its Orthodox church – the creation of icons. Caritas is currently developing a programme to help young people enter the job market or higher education, through psychological support based on individual counseling and art therapy.
Young people attend the centre outside school hours, to take part in painting and print-making workshops (wood-cuts and metal plate engraving). They help with maintenance work on the premises, exhibit their work and receive professional assessment and advice. Most of the participants suffer from difficulties in their social relationships. Through immersion in group workshops at the centre they can open up to others, acquire work skills and find new confidence.
The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès is pleased to support this project, combining craft skills and education in a country in the grip of recession, where a third of the population was living below the poverty line in 2009. The Foundation is partnered by Secours Catholique – the French member of the Caritas network – overseeing the project with Caritas Georgia.
Over an eleven-year period, 540 young people have passed through the centre with successful outcomes for many past pupils, who return as volunteers to train future generations.