Pandemic Civic Response Bulletin: Republic of Georgia

Even when we have to keep our distance, people around the world are coming together like never before to help their communities face the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis. We’re not public health experts, but we wanted to share some new ideas that have already been put into practice in an effort to fight the virus and mitigate the social impact of the pandemic. Here are a few standout examples from the Republic of Georgia that can serve as inspiration for civic initiatives elsewhere. In the upcoming days and weeks, we’ll be sharing more exciting projects from other countries. Read in Russian here.

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We’ll publish the most creative and inspiring civic responses to the global pandemic.

Getting rural and underprivileged kids online

GiveInternet.org is a Georgian organisation that purchases internet connections and laptop computers for underprivileged students.

Around the world, the closure of schools and movement of classes online in response to the pandemic has exposed the disparities in access to the internet and home computers among rural and disadvantaged families, and Georgia is no exception. A Georgian non-profit called Giveinternet.org has been helping disadvantaged high school students reach their full potential by giving them internet access since 2017. The coronavirus pandemic has led to a spike in need for their service, and they hope to get 200 Georgian students online at home in the coming months. Along with the civil society platform Sector 3 and their project You Creator, Giveinternet.org is also working to get laptops to students in need.

Translating vital information

In a country with a rich linguistic diversity and approximately 14 languages commonly spoken, getting key public health information and news about access to public services localised for minority communities has been one of the challenges of the pandemic. A group called Salam, which works with the Azeri community in Georgia, has stepped in by producing eye-catching posters in Azeri language conveying facts about the spread of the virus and what can be done to prevent it.

Community Solidarity

Tbilisi man Akaa Sinjikashvily and other volunteers deliver food to those in need.

Among those most vulnerable during the crisis are the elderly, the sick and disabled, and those left without any income to support their families as a result of the quarantine measures and the economic downturn they precipitated. Luckily, Georgia has no shortage of good Samaritans and warm-hearted, energetic people willing to help neighbours and strangers alike. When allied with clever social media experts, they have accomplished amazing things together.  One Tbilisi man collected 17 tons of food in 7 days. With four cars and a handful of volunteers, they have made hundreds of deliveries. Similarly, a Facebook group created March 13, 2020 called Let’s Help the Elderly already has more than 30,000 members and has reportedly raised more than 30,000 USD to provide food and other necessities to seniors.

Helping small businesses weather the storm

Most small businesses, except for those providing essential services, have had to close their brick and mortar stores due to the quarantine measures enacted in Georgia. Business owners are scrambling to quickly reorient and change their approach, for example by opening an eshop, in order to stay afloat. A collection of large companies has formed supportbusiness.ge, a platform offering free consulting and online courses to smaller businesses to help them acclimate to the new reality.

Corporate social responsibility

Unity is a platform created by international and local Georgian companies to connect volunteers with those in need of help in this time of crisis. There are two registration forms: one to make a request for assistance, and another for volunteers wanting to help. The platform operators then connect the two. They also collect donations to directly assist the elderly, disabled, single mothers and other vulnerable groups, noting “victory is in unity.”

Knowing where to turn when you can’t go out

Prevencia.ge is a website cataloguing all different types of products and services available remotely in Georgia—everything from sportswear to legal advice. Expecting high traffic from stay-at-home customers, the creators of the site saw an opportunity to provide an additional social benefit by including a section debunking fake news about the coronavirus circulating in the country and pointing visitors to confirmed facts and reliable information.

 

Pandemic Civic Response in Other Countries