Re: Yes, I see wonderful things

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Some of you know that my wife and I run a small-but-legit charity that assists an orphanage in the Republic of Georgia. You can check it out at if you’d like to. At any rate, we send out a holiday newsletter to our donors and to anyone else who expresses an interest and we also post it on our website. My wife and a friend put the newsletter together and I write a story about what’s been happening. If you’re interested, you can read my previous story and the rest of last year’s holiday newsletter at

Here’s an early draft of this year’s story. If you can find the time I’d appreciate any feedback you’d care to give.

Kindest regards to all,


* * * * *

“Yes, I see wonderful things”

Do you recognize the quote? It’s what Howard Carter said to his sponsor, Lord Carnarvon, upon first glimpsing inside the tomb of King Tutankhamun. Carnarvon had asked “Do you see anything?” The world knows about the wonders of King Tut’s Tomb. I’ve seen some of them myself and they are truly magnificent. If you get a chance to visit the touring exhibit in the US this year, be sure to go.

There’s plenty going on in our world, too. Sponsors and friends of CCRFund and our donors from all walks of life keep making wonderful things happen for the kids at the Telavi Children’s Home. Maybe those things don’t look big to the rest of the world but CCRFund and its donors are making important differences in children’s lives, and that’s what this is all about, right? Sometimes they happen quickly, sometimes slowly, always with help but wonderful things do continue to happen. I’d like to tell you about a few.

How about the five new classrooms? This summer Beso, the director at Telavi, asked Levan if CCRFund would consider renovating five dilapidated and ignored rooms and converting them to study rooms where kids can read and do their homework. Yes, and maybe hang out and stay warm together a little bit, too. We found the money for that project and Levan hired a team to do the work. The result? Five clean, bright and comfortable study rooms and more kids studying and reading. How huge is that?

There are only 75 kids left at Telavi. Parliament passed new adoption laws that subsidize Georgian families that adopt children. That led to the adoption of most of the younger kids. Telavi looks different without them but we wish them all the best with their new families. They are home at last.

Since last year’s war there are lots more orphans and abandoned and lost kids that need help. Our budget is tight, even with fewer children, but if we find the right opportunity and our budget allows, we might entertain helping another orphanage in addition to Telavi. We’ll see what happens.

Levan got an unusual call from Beso in September. “Levan, do you want to go to a concert at the chancellery?” The chancellery is the seat of Georgian government. I’ve been to a few briefings and meetings there.

They went and it turned out to be a celebration of Georgian children. Homeless children. Our kinds of kids, from children’s homes all across Georgia. The first thing was an exhibit of handicrafts made by kids from a number of children’s homes. You do remember that your donations pay for a girls’ crafts teacher at Telavi, don’t you? The girls attend handicraft classes and make some beautiful things, clothes and art and all kinds of things. They actually sell enough of them to pay for their supplies and sometimes a little extra. Those were the kinds of things being exhibited.

The next event was the children’s concert itself. Nine kids from the Telavi Children’s Home participated along with many others, singing and dancing. One of them won… are you ready?… a gold medal for her singing. Levan writes that they couldn’t stop crying, tears of joy all around.

On the spur of the moment after the concert Levan took all the Telavi kids and accompanying staff out for khinkali, the wonderful traditional Georgian stuffed dumplings. The ate themselves silly and there were toasts all around, including toasts to CCRFund for making these wonderful things happen. But wait, there’s more.

There was a group of gentlemen at the next table over in the restaurant. One of them got up, walked over and introduced himself. He was Robert Chkhaidze, the mayor of Batumi, one of the two major Georgian Black Sea port cities. He said he had heard all the talk about the children’s successes and he wanted to know more about it and about them. After a few minutes he asked Beso if he and the children would like to visit Batumi, all expenses paid by the Batumi city council. Would they? WOULD they?

The call from the mayor’s office came last week. 25 of our kids and their chaperones have officially been invited to visit Batumi soon, exact dates to be arranged, all expenses paid. This is truly an “I can’t believe it!” success story for Telavi, for our kids and for everyone at CCRFund. Levan, you are still my hero.

Let’s see, what else? Oh yes, the tutor. Remember that we wanted to hire an advanced studies tutor to prepare a few of the most promising oldest kids for their university exams? The exams are the only way to get into the state university of Georgia and good tutors don’t come cheap. They are unheard-of at any of the children’s homes.

Well, our old friend Aleko Basilashvili, whom we’ve known since 2003, saw Levan’s car at the Telavi home and he stopped in to say hello. Aleko is a wonderful young businessman and Telavi native who has a special place in his heart for the Telavi children. He shows up with ice cream on hot days, things like that.

After the greetings and chatting for a while he asked Levan if there was anything he could do to help. Levan told him about the need for a tutor and that our budget is a little tight. “I’ll pay for the whole year,” said Aleko. Even Beso and Levan were stunned, and I am too. We already knew Aleko to be a generous guy but this was a real surprise. So now the tutor is taken care of for the 2009-2010 school year. The results are unknowable, of course, but we do know that our kids have the best possible chance to get into the university. If and when some of them make it there, there will be no limit to what they can do.

Of course, we continue our monthly assistance. It may not be wonderful but it’s there every month. Levan and Irma visit and provide food and meds and take care of assorted needs. The kids and staff can count on it. Along with everything else Levan and Irma bring friendship and warmth and companionship. Sometimes those can be a pretty precious commodities to kids in an institution.

We don’t have to open a tomb to see wonderful things. All we have to do is show up and open our eyes. Maybe they aren’t as wonderful to the world as Howard Carter’s discoveries were but then again, maybe they are to the children who benefit.

You should see how the kids brighten up when we arrive in Telavi. Actually, you can see it if you want to badly enough. Let us know if you want to make the trip. You might not open a tomb but I guarantee that you’ll brighten a life. Besides, in the great scheme of things which would you rather do, see some gold or lend a hand to a child? And when you get back home and your friends ask you if you saw anything, you can tell them “Yes, I saw wonderful things.”