“Education is the only motivation in a woman’s life. Education enables a woman to be more daring. An educated person has more culture”, – think women, who failed to receive an education due to social, economic or cultural constraints.
Some of the protagonists of this photo story lack not only high school level but basic education as well. They were born in the era, when the issue of whether or not a woman should receive an education was resolved by others. In some cases, they simply lacked access to school. Elderly women living in the mountainous region of Adjara were children at this time. Many of them still regret the fact that they could not receive sufficient education.
Batumelebi met with the women in pastures located in the Chirukhi mountains.
Tina Putkaradze, 68 years old:
“I was raised in Shuakhevi, village Dgvani. I finished high school and wished to continue my studies, but I was forced to marry. I studied well and finished school with distinction. I especially liked Georgian language and literature. I knew half of the “Knight in the Panther’s Skin” by heart. If I was granted an opportunity, I would become a Georgian language teacher. I was thinking about applying to the university but my mother told me – “you will meet some guy in the city, will run with him and I will kill you”. Then what she did was have me married. Now I will say it many times, she took this sin with her to the grave. If she did not go against it, I would now have higher education and a decent job. I always received A and B grades at school. My brother was a teacher; in bad weather he used to place me on his back and take me to school that way. I regret it very much.
Did I love my husband? Who would ask me? Nobody cared about it. It was a bargain. My husband had no education either.
Do you know what I remember the most? I studied in Batumi for half a year before I married. There were sewing classes in a sewing factory. I have done physical work my whole life and I only had my own salary during those six months. On one hand they taught us and on the other – had us work in the factory. When I received my first salary, I bought a two-piece suit – a sport coat and a skirt. I could not think of a happier person in the whole world then. I was a kid, I was so happy. I even collected money for my own dowry .
I studied for six months, by the seventh month I got engaged and then married. I was not given a chance to finish my studies. If I had a chance, I would not get married, I would study, enter the grown up world, be educated, cleverer, however life appeared to be different. When I married, I found out that in the new family there was my sister-in-law, who was bound to a wheelchair. I was looking after her for 20-21 years. Then we had kids. I started working on a collective farm, in the tobacco field, but there was no salary. When I received my salary, the money would be split in the family. If I needed something my husband would give me some, but the salary earned by you is still different, when it is truly yours.”
I have six children. One of my sons works on a ship, he is a captain. None of my four girls have studied. Two of them were kidnapped at a very young age, so they did not even finish high school. The other two got married immediately after finishing high school. I wanted them to study, however. But at least my grandchildren do study.
One of my grandchildren is 23 years old, she finished university. She is told to get married on frequent occasions. She replies – “why should I get married? Am I doing something wrong now? I wish to set up my life first”. I support her in every possible way and advise her not to marry yet. Family is a very difficult thing. When you marry, you cannot live on your own any more. I would tell the youth not to be in a hurry, wait on marriage. First, they should make their own lives and then take this important step.
Nadia Ebralidze, 85 years old:
My education is comprised of eight years at school. I had to live in a very tough and poor period with no books, pens, pencils…At that time there was a shortage even in ink supply, so we could not write. We would scratch soot from a fireplace, apply it to the pen and write that way. I somehow finished eighth grade at school and haven’t thought of continuing my studies since then. Then only those living in towns would think of studying. I was 25 when I married my husband. I raised my children. I wished my daughters went to study, however they also failed to. I hope that my grandchildren will study though.
Aishe Dumbadze, 80 years old:
I am 80 years old, already preparing to depart this world…I was an orphan. Somehow I managed to reach the third grade at school and then I left it, the school was far away. Nevertheless, I was cunning enough to learn to read and write myself. I know enough to sign. Besides, I used to write small letters, when my children were in the army. If I was not an orphan, who knows, maybe I would have reached something myself. I wished to be a doctor. Everybody is a doctor in my community.
I was 14 when I got married. I have five children – one girl and four boys. One of them studied, the others have high school level educations. My girl learned to sew.
What would education change in my life? – I would have a better life, I would be an appreciated woman. Thank God I still have a good life, however education is still different. All of my children are doing good, they all have their homes and good lives. I feel all right from that perspective.
Aishe Beridze, 78 years old:
Education was not accessible during my time. I wished to study but failed to. I got married and then had no time to study. I gave birth to six children and they required support and care. I wanted to be a doctor very much. It is a very good profession, you help people. I failed to reach that goal.
I married my husband at the age of 17; we loved each other and still do at this older age. We understand each other very well. We always look each other straight in the eyes. All of my people are good – my children, daughters-in-law, neighbors. I am satisfied with my life.
Eter Putkaradze, 60 years old:
I live in Darchidzeebi, the village is called Mtisubani. During summer we spend three months on mountainous summer pastures and live there. We make cheese, butter, some dairy products and take them down with us to consume in winter.
The life of a woman living in the mountains is difficult. There is no difference whether you are healthy or sick, whether you can or cannot do something. You should go and work. I got married immediately upon finishing school. I have not studied since I graduated. At the time when I finished school, girls never continued studies at a higher level, although I could study very well. I was very good at math. I helped my child with that subject throughout all the school years.
Why did I fail to study? Life was tough then. I was the first girl in the family. My mother had seven children and I raised my siblings. Time was spent working and it took my studying time away. Now people graduate from universities and I am surprised and frustrated. I knew more than them, I understood more than them; knew but failed to study.
When my child finished school, it was a very difficult period for us, we were poor, however I managed to do the impossible and give her an education. My child never felt that we lacked anything. Whatever I lacked in terms of education, I made sure to provide my child with.
What I see in young girls is a trend that everybody does their best to get educated. They do everything to become students and study, since nothing is possible without education.
Guguli Surmanidze, 81 years old:
My education is comprised of three years at a junior school. I left the school after that. I worked on a farm, looked after cows. I still look after cows, it is my income. If there was any job in the village, I was doing it, worked on a collective farm, collected potato crops, and grew tobacco.
Salary? My husband was a postman and delivered newspapers. That was my salary. My own money? Where would I get my own money from, I was young then and had no pension. Now I have a pension. When I first received my pension, it was my personal money. Although we sold cheese, potatoes, and tobacco, the revenue was split within the family. I have four children. I have given no education to my children, however will certainly do that for my grandchildren.
Manana Putkaradze, 57 years old:
I live in the village Tomasheti. I was 47 years old when my husband passed away. I have been a widow for the past 10 years. My boys are married and so is my daughter.
I finished high school and then got married. I had some education but then women generally would not study a lot. I usually received A and B marks at school. There was no opportunity; otherwise I would have gone for higher education. I truly wished to study – I used to say that “I plan to become a nurse” but I failed to. There was no opportunity, my parents would not let me go. I could not give education to my daughter either, however she was not interested in studying herself. I regret it. If I had an education, I would not have to look after cattle.
It is tough to lack education, you then have to work physically. Looking after cows is not an easy job. You must always spend time in a cattle-shed. Now I milk five cows. That is the way it is, you should do whatever life requires you to.
Tina Kartsivadze, 82 years old:
I have finished eight years of school. I used to study at Oladauri school in Shuakhevi. I was in 8th grade when my family was displaced from there. In 1951 we were sent to Kazakhstan and came back in 1953. We were in such a difficult situation; who would care about my education? Survival was the main issue to take care of. My parents were old fashioned people, they did not wish to study. They did not regret it too much that I was left without education.
When we came back to Georgia, I got married at their will. There were no love based marriages then. Somebody was arranged to be your husband based on your father’s will and you had to obey. That was the rule. I made it to a good family, so I did not regret the marriage too much. Life is difficult, but still I am satisfied. I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My children did not study but my grandchild, a girl, graduated from university. The grandchildren, boys, have graduated from musical school and now they are musicians.
P.S. The photo story is prepared on summer pastures located on the mountain Chirukhi, Shuakhevi municipality. Every year, by the end of May, people from various villages take their cattle to the mountains and spend the whole summer there. They are also called mountain inhabitants. The whole workload is on women. They look after cows, make cheese, butter, other dairy products and then sell them in the town and consume the products throughout the winter.