August 29, 2008
Contributed by Idan Peysahovich, JAFI
Before I left Israel, I met Eter Shukashvili at the absorption center in Ashdod. She had made aliyah during the war in Georgia; I promised Eter that I would try to contact her mother when I went to her homeland. I was determined to find her, and with Gregory's help I did.
I met Eter's mother today – Nunu Shukashvili. It was a rollercoaster of emotions for all of us. Nunu is paralyzed, and spends all day and night on the bed. She has no wheelchair.
Nunu Shukashvili and her son Beso, with Idan Peysahovich (right).
Gregory took me to the village of Barbuki, outside of Gori, where Nunu lives. We walked down a small flight of stairs and entered a dark, one-room apartment. A naked light bulb was the only source of light.
Nunu Shukashvili suffered a stroke and is paralyzed. She spends her days and nights lying on a bed, with her head turned to the wall most of the time. When we walked into the room, her son Beso, who takes care of her, introduced us. I reached out to shake her hand, and then quickly pulled it back. I smiled instead.
When I told her that I had seen her daughter before I left, she started to cry. I took out my laptop and showed her a picture of Eter, smiling, with her husband. My eyes also filled with tears. Nunu looked at it for a long time, taking in the happiness on her daughter's face. (see photo at right).
I told her that she too could come to Israel. That in Israel, she would be taken care of, given treatment, definitely improve her condition. In Barbuki, Nunu has no wheelchair, because there are none. She and her son are so poor they barely have enough money for food. There is no money for any of the medications Nunu needs, or any treatment such as physiotherapy.
I could not fathom that she just lies on that bed, in that windowless room, 24 hours a day. Her son feeds her.
Nunu did not object when we encouraged her to come to Israel. Simply, she has just lost hope for a better life. She doesn't see how it would be possible. How could I explain to her that it was possible? That with the support of Gregory and the Jewish Agency we could make it possible.
We turned to Beso. He is only 20, and still has some hope. He supports his mother by selling odds and ends at the local market a few days a week. We told him to start the aliyah process in order to help his mother, and himself. He wrote down everything Gregory said, and Gregory will follow-up.
When we explained how Eter's husband already had a job in Israel, there was a small light of happiness in Nunu's eyes. Beso too could have such a better future in Israel. I was already thinking about the programs available for him, from job training to getting on a higher education track.
There are some things that we do in our lives that we can be proud of. There are times when we go beyond ourselves and reach out to others because we care. Because it is the right thing to do. Because it can change someone's life and make a difference. This is what I felt today.
Shabbat is fast approaching and I am going to pray at the synagogue in Tbilisi. I will write again on Sunday, as there is so much I haven't said yet.
With me in my pocket is the list of Nunu's medications. I am sending it to Israel before Shabbat with the hope that, even before she makes aliyah, we can help her.