Giorgi has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. Bela recounts how she had to abandon the chair when the family fled their home after violence erupted in Georgia this month near their village, several miles from South Ossetia's capital, Tskhinvali.
Initially, the family hid in a basement that did not block out the terrifying sound of gunfire. When the shooting stopped, Bela carried Giorgi more than a mile to reach the main road in her escape. Since taking refuge at a relative's home in Tianeti, in northern Georgia, Giorgi has exhibited signs of shock, including a lack of interest in interacting with people.
World Vision teams responding to the current situation in Georgia and the Russian Federation have heard many disturbing stories similar to Bela's.
"The humanitarian needs here are growing exponentially, faster than the combined agencies [working in the region] can keep up with," says David Womble, World Vision's national director in Georgia. "We continue to look at the tip of the iceberg."
An estimated 115,000 people have been uprooted from their homes, and the need for shelter and emergency support in the region is increasing. Thousands of displaced people continue to lack access to shelter or food.
World Vision has been providing food aid to survivors in partnership with the World Food Program. We plan to assist nearly 48,000 displaced persons in more than 300 relief centers in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.
To date, our teams have delivered pre-positioned food to more than 9,000 of the displaced in more than 45 relief centers, and non-food emergency supplies to more than 3,700 in 23 such centers. Our teams additionally have donated medical supplies to the main hospital in Tbilisi.
Children's needs also continue to be great in South Ossetia, where Giorgi and his mom have fled.
Bela recounts how she asked World Vision staff for a wheelchair for Georgi so he could leave the isolation of his bed and move around independently.
Two days later, our team was able to deliver a chair to the boy. As a result, says Bela: "This is the first time that Giorgi has smiled after leaving the village."
Yet the family's future appears as bleak as the basement from which they fled — they don't know where they will live, or how they will feed their children. Such is the plight of tens of thousands of children and families, caught in the crosshairs of this conflict.
>> Pray for peace in Georgia and for the children and families affected by the strife. Pray also for aid groups like World Vision to reach the most vulnerable quickly.
>> Donate now to assist children and families who have been displaced by the conflict in Georgia.
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