The war changed everything

By Ia Patatishvili
Brosse Street Journal
Tuesday, February 21 2012

2003, November: Cars were going to Tbilisi from Vanati, a village in the Gori region.People in the area had heard about demonstrations in Tbilisi, demanding political changes and a new president.
Qetevan Bestaevi’s children and husband went to Tbilisi. She was sick and couldn’t go, but she was happy with the hope that something could be changed. On November 23, President Eduard Shevardnadze left his position and in the next election, the demonstration’s leader , Mikheil Saakashvili, became Georgia’s third president.
Bestaevi had three houses in the village, a cow farm and a vineyard, where she worked with her family members. But she always had electricity, water and heating problems. She listened to the president’s promises every day. Soon they repaired roads, made water channels and provided electricity. But then everything changed again.
2008, August, Georgia –Russian war:
“ I heard bombing sounds. We ran to the forest, absolutely panicked. I had no money, jewelry or documents. After three days, we left the forest by someone’s car. Firstly Government gave us accommodation, which was an old school. Next we moved to Khurvaleti, small cottages especially for refugees. I was crying because of emptiness around,”Bestaevi said.
Now 59 years old, Bestaevi lives with her husband and four children in small cottages that were built after the war. Her husband, Gela, sometimes tries to resell items in Tbilisi shopping areas. Their children go to school four miles from the house, but the school is open only in spring, because of bad weather in winter.
The cottages are small, with some furniture and a TV. At first, there was no roof. The rain came into the house. Then the government repaired the cottages, but they are still cold and damp. On the side of house, there is a plot of land, but without water, people can’t grow anything. Bestaevi has one hen.
“ I used to be happy. But war changed everything. I don’t know who to blame, our government or Russia. But I feel horrible. My two houses are burned, and other one is unlivable. Someone told me that on the door of that house it is written: Reserved,” Bestaevi said.

Copyright © 2004, Brosse Street Journal.