“For the sake of a single child, I would go to negotiate with any separatist dictator,” says Julia Kharashvili, chairperson of the Georgian IDP Women Association “Consent,” former deputy head of the international relations department at the Georgian Ministry of IDPs from Occupied Territories, Accommodation, and Refugees, and organizer of peace education programs for the residents of South Caucasus. For a quarter of a century, she has not been able to return to her house in Abkhazia, where she was driven away from, like tens of thousands of ethnic Georgians, in the early 1990s.
I met Julia in 2016, when being a volunteer in the summer peace camp for Ukrainian kids who either came from the frontline areas of Donbas or had been internally displaced persons. In this camp, the participants not only relaxed but also produced their own first movies. Julia came to Ukraine to talk to the children about the nature of conflicts, from intra- and interpersonal to international, and discuss what is necessary for their resolution.
“We live around the same [Black] Sea,” she told her young Ukrainian listeners at the first day of her training. “So we are almost neighbors, who have experienced a lot of similar things, earlier we and later you. We came here because it’s our duty: because when we were living through hard times, Ukrainian brothers and sisters were standing next to us to the last.
When everything was burning here [in Ukraine], it was burning in our hearts too because we again went through the same things that had happened to us.”