A successful partnership in Georgia strengthens relationships and supports US efforts to improve healthcare for women
Spirit of America just completed a project in Akhaltsikhe, Georgia where we partnered with a US Army Civil Affairs team and the Peace Corps to renovate a women’s clinic. This project not only helped the women in the community, but also served as a vehicle for the Georgian government and American Embassy to show their attentiveness to the needs of the Georgian people. View the project here. Georgia is a small country located in a strategic part of the Caucasus region of Eastern Europe. The country’s favorable attitude toward the West and their goal of NATO membership has led to the worsening of relations with Russia, culminating in Russia’s invasion and de facto annexation of South Ossetia in 2008. The effects of the war still impact the daily lives of all Georgians, especially those who live near the Administrative Boundary Lines that separate Georgia and the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Thousands of people have been displaced and remain vulnerable. Additionally, throughout the remote areas of Georgia, communities are in need of aid in order to develop and prosper. Spirit of America has been working in cooperation with the US Embassy to meet the needs of Georgians affected by the conflict. Completing the renovations to this women’s clinic not only helped the Army team meet a critical need, but also solidified the Embassy’s relationship with the community. When I was in Georgia last September, the US Army Civil Affairs team working there told me that the clinic was in desperate need of assistance in order to continue to provide medical care for the women and girls in the area. The team explained that the clinic was the only one of its kind in the region capable of providing cancer screenings and health and gynecological services to women who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them. They went on to explain that the clinic’s mammography machine for detecting breast cancer had recently stopped working. A new one had been donated by the Japanese Embassy, but extensive renovations were required before it and other medical equipment could be installed. The Civil Affairs team and I drove out to the clinic to better understand the scope and scale of the required renovations. It was important to me to see the clinic for myself, meet the director and staff, and shake the contractor’s hand. After I saw the need firsthand and understood how significant an impact the renovations would have, we were able to very quickly commit to purchasing the supplies that were needed. I am happy to report that the renovations were completed in March and the clinic looks amazing! There are three new examination rooms. The new windows and doors are more energy efficient and provide greater security. Updated plumbing, including new sinks and a toilet, has greatly improved the clinic’s functionality, and new electrical wiring allowed for the installation of the donated medical equipment. Lastly, the fresh paint and shiny new tile gave the clinic a warm, welcoming feel. The Democratic Women’s Organization (DWO) is now the only health provider in the region that offers a full range of free gynecological health services including checkups, diagnoses, and treatment for precancerous cervical problems for women who couldn’t otherwise afford them. Just this week I had a follow up call with the current US Army Civil Affairs team working in Georgia. We discussed the challenges that Georgia still faces from external actors and how Spirit of America can help further support the US mission of improving stability in the region. I was encouraged to hear that our model of small-scale high-impact support was able to play a critical role in this multi-national, multi-organizational effort to improve women’s health and overall stability. This project was so successful because of the relationships that were built and strengthened along the way. To our donors, thank you for your support and thank you for being a partner in our work to support the deployed US men and women and the people they seek to help. All the best, Chris Clary Project Manager
Chris served as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant in Afghanistan where he mentored Afghan Commandos from 2010-2011. He volunteered to return in 2012 to work with Afghan Local Police and Afghan National Police at a Village Stability site in central Afghanistan, and also took a leave of absence from SoA to deploy once more to Afghanistan with his Special Forces team in 2015.