Back in February, my host sister and I visited my host aunt’s nursery.  My host aunt is the director of Akhaltsikhe Nursery #1, which cares for 60 kids under the age of four.  I’d been told by my host mom and sister that the nursery’s water situation was really difficult, especially in winter.  And they were right.

They only had one tap in the entire nursery.  This tap was, of all places, in the director’s office.  Once upon a time there had been a water tank in a side room, but it overflowed one winter, froze and cracked.  This was about five years ago.  The room was then turned into storage.

Water only runs for 2-4 hours per day here, so most families and places of businesses have tanks to store water for off-hour use.  At the nursery, staff would bring water from home and fill up as many jugs and bowls as possible in the morning, and ration it throughout the day.

What was probably the most upsetting about the water situation at the nursery was the bathroom that the children use.  It’s a lovely bathroom, by Georgian standards – a low sink and toilet for the kids, new tiles and lots of light…

…but the pipes weren’t connected.  Nope, the bathroom was installed during an election year, and after the election the project was left incomplete.  This, too, was a few years ago, and while my host aunt has lobbied the local government to complete the project, it was left like this.

They covered up the unfinished corner with a shelf, but you can see that the pipe stops in the bucket.

Frustrating, yes?  I can only imagine how difficult it would be to take care of 60 young children without running water.  Yikes.

I knew of a potential funding organization called Appropriate Projects, which provides small ($500 and under) grants for essential water projects.  It’s only available for Peace Corps Volunteers and I had other friends who had applied successfully.  So my host sister and I decided to work on this project together.  While I could have done it on my own, my host sister has a ton of potential and I wanted to work with her to develop some project writing and management skills.

In February, we wrote the application.  Six weeks later, we were funded.  We contracted a handyman and worked with him to ensure the upgrades were completed successfully and on-time.  Surprisingly, the project went smoothly and we didn’t have any surprises…a rarity here, I promise!

A few weeks ago we went to see the finished product.  What a difference $550 can make!

Our handyman was able to barter for not one but two new water tanks!  The second was placed in the bathroom, making water available 24/7.  Also, the pipes from the director’s office were connected, so the bathroom actually works now.

Here’s the second water tank, with the sink that also now has running water.  In the bottom of the picture is a pipe, which is the new drain for the kitchen.  Previously all water and food waste was thrown out in the yard, since there was no working drain.

It’s a pretty fantastic feeling to actually see the impact of your work.  We were greeted with flowers and fresh-from-the-oven peroshkis, one of my favorite foods here.  The nursery staff all came to give us hugs.  They told us how much easier their job is now, and now much cleaner they are able to keep the kids and the facility itself.  They told me that even though I wouldn’t be here this winter, they’d think of me when they weren’t lugging freezing water from home but instead getting it directly from the sink.

In my poor Georgian, I did my best to explain that it was my pleasure to help, and that this, right here, is why I joined to Peace Corps, and that projects like this make my time in Georgia worthwhile.  In my poor Georgian.  So I’m sure almost none of that was actually communicated.  I tried.

Also, they insisted I take pictures of the kids in their new bathroom.  This group is too young to actually use the new toilet, but still.  Prepare yourselves for over-the-top adorableness…

See?  I told you.  Georgian kids are crazy cute.

Appropriate Projects is a pretty cool organization, really – they don’t give a lot of money, but instead ask that the community tap into its own resources to stretch the funds as far as possible.  They pre-fund all projects so they can begin immediately.  They ask that all projects be finished quickly (within a month, if possible) to maintain momentum.

Clearly my project has been paid for and is complete; however, if you’re able, please, please consider donating to help cover the cost of my project and fund future projects.  You’ll be helping Appropriate Projects complete other much-needed water projects around the world, including lots of my friends’ projects here in Georgia (here’s Sean’s shower project; my friend Alissa’s drinking fountain project; new volunteer Caitlin’s handwashing station, to name a few).

Thank you in advance for your support, even if it’s only a few dollars!  I truly appreciate it, as do all the Georgians you’re helping.