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About Us

Community Organization “Georgian Down Syndrome Association” was founded on January 16, 2017 by leader parents and an adult with Down Syndrome.

The association's vision for people with Down Syndrome is to live in dignity, in an equitable environment, where person's capabilities are recognized and realized.

The mission of the association is to create a dignified environment based on equal rights for people with Down Syndrome. The Association constantly strives to ensure the full inclusion and participation of people with Down Syndrome in their public lives, to Empower their families, to advocate for needs-tailored services, to support independent living and to raise public awareness. The Down Syndrome Association of Georgia recognizes the principle of equality and human rights recognized by international organizations, respects the individuality and uniqueness of the personality.

Georgian Down Syndrome Association team members

Georgian Down Syndrome Association team members

 

Lia Tabatadze - Founder of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association, Chairman of the Board

 

I am Lia Tabatadze, born on July 1, 1982, the head of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association. This title is conditional and has been given to me by time and circumstances. I am actually a mother of two amazing  children, one of whom, the beautiful Theodora, has Down Syndrome. It all started with Theodora's birth. A young mother, an art expert who was developing her profession, had a second child who completely changed her life, from this perspective for the better.  

 

The first conflict with the society started in the maternity hospital. Lack of information about Down Syndrome complicated everything, no one congratulated the birth of a child and relatives even avoided talking about it. I firmly decided that I should be the first informant of relatives and friends and start talking about it openly.  At first it was certainly very hard... 

 

I created a page on the social network - Down Syndrome to find information-seeking parents like me. I wrote about Theodora, translated various articles and published them. After some time I found some parents. 

 

Theodora was a few months old when I learned about March 21, World Down Syndrome Day. In some countries at that time this day was celebrated informally. I published a blog post where I talked about the importance of this day and I promised myself that this is the last March 21, when no one talks about this day in Georgia. This promise gave me the belief and strength to change, but how, I did not know yet...

I wrote to the International Down Syndrome Organization and asked for informational support. It turned out that in that very year, November 10, 2011, the UN had the issue of officially approving March 21 as World Down Syndrome Day. I contacted the Ambassador of Georgia to the UN at that time and I am proud that our country also voted for this important process. 

 

In the meantime, I discovered our parent organization, the Union of Parents and Professionals of Children with Down Syndrome, „Our Children“, and two forceful parents, Nino and Tamuna, with whose support I dared to do things. This is how the celebration of March 21 in Georgia started from 2012 until today. We have been carrying out a colorful sock campaign since 2014, which has made a huge and multicolored change in the public consciousness. 

 

In preparation for the March 21 celebration in 2013, we made sure that the employment of our children is one of the most important issues.  We shot a video that brought a fundamental change. It was in that year that professional inclusive education started and our video was running on all trainings. The state soon began to talk about the employment policy of persons with disabilities and took concrete measures. I realized that if I wanted my daughter to be independent, she had to be employed. This is how the social enterprise "Babale" was created and has existed since 2014 with its own income.  "Babale" is now 100% owned by the Georgian Down Syndrome Association, which means that its profits are used entirely for the purposes of the association.

 

The birth of the association did not happen by chance either, Over the years, acquired parent friends have collaborated on various projects, campaigns and activities. We rejoiced and offended together, a lot of things happened to us together and finally it turned out that this not so small team, had the same values and views. So we decided to establish our union legally. 

 

One more subsidiary organization  was added to us in the form of  “Gigo’s Foundation”, which is now an independent legal entity and is founded by our association... 

 

I devoted a lot of time and energy to my development and growth. I started working in a public school to teach students with special educational needs and tested on myself the functioning of an inclusive education system. I later became a special education teacher... 

 

Today I am the head of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association and the social enterprise Babale. I am also the founder and board member of the Coalition for Parents of Persons with Disabilities "Movement for Change", the founder and board member of the Social Entrepreneurship Alliance.  I have been a member of the Monitoring Board for the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for several years. I am currently a member of the Advisory Board on Disability Issues of various Ministries and Tbilisi City Hall.





Inga Sarjveladze - Founder of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association

I am Inga Sarjveladze. I was born on December 11, 1973. Historian by profession, financier, I am a Ph.D candidate in public administration. I have basic work experience in rehabilitation-re-socialization of training centers of public structures and vulnerable groups, but at the same time I have always been a member of non-governmental organizations for the protection of rights of persons with disabilities, which has always given my life energy, opportunity for change, diversity and belief.

Gigo's birth at the age of 21 convinced me that life is what you create and build, not what others offer.

Despite much resistance, I took my son home and started seeking support. I was living in Moscow at the time and first found the Down Syndrome Association, then Down Side Up. In addition to providing me with huge amount of materials, retraining and Gigo’s development, these organizations have given me the inspiration to return to Georgia instead of escaping somewhere in Europe and fight here for my son's rights, to defend him, fight for equality.

Upon our return, we established the Georgian Down Syndrome Association, which seeks to empower children with Down Syndrome and their parents. Then there was sitting at the Institute of Genetics for hours, gathering children with Down Syndrome hidden in families, working with them. Empowering parents, pausing everything due to lack of indigence, then new organizations, new ideas, small changes achieved, performances, meetings, professional training and employment of young people with disabilities... 

Lots of things I can not list here, but the main experience that these years have brought me: 

In order to go across the government, to achieve global changes step by step, it is necessary to have a strong team!

A team that brings together the community, understand the needs and capabilities of each member, and will be able to partner consistently and constructively with all the necessary organizations to achieve effective results. 

Georgian Down Syndrome Association is the team that needs a community united around Down Syndrome in our country. I believe that our unity will bring prosperity not only to our community, but to many others. 

Equality is the dignity of the country and not the privilege of certain individuals.


 



Gigo Shiukashvili - Founder of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association

I was born on the 25th day of the fifth month of 1995, on thursday. I love my birthday and looking forward to it year after year. It turns out that my birth caused a great deal of excitement, but how could my coming to earth have been so quiet? I have 1 different thing, which fits only one in 700 people in the world: +1 chromosome! And it’s me, Gigo Shiukashvili, boy with down syndrome.

Life turned out to be very colorful, joyful and interesting. I was born in Moscow, I went to the British Foundation “Down Side Up” Early Development Center. My family moved to Tbilisi when I was 2 years old, I grew up as a Georgian and started walking in the kindergarten.  I liked to interact with a lot of people and it did not bother me to limit myself to a few words and non-verbal speech until I was 5 years old. Do you know how easy nonverbal speech is? People of all nationalities are contacted equally. I started walking in the day center at the age of 7, because at that time there were no inclusive approaches in schools, I only went to the 21st public school at the age of 14. I was admitted to VI grade. I made lots of friends. It's interesting to live with your peers, it was a very cool thing, I love my classmates and school.

When I was 10 years old, one day a genius idea came to the mind of the day center Aisi’s staff - They brought us a director who would stage a play with us. Something new, wonderful and beautiful started there. You know how much fun it is to adapt to someone else's role, to portray the mystics presented in the fantasy in etudes, to see actions and emotions from a different angle, that you are and that you are not at this time... Theater has become my life, without it everything would be very colorless. I work in the integrated theater "Azdaki Garden", but I have not been able to get an education in this field yet. This is a problem and my friends and me  have to overcome this in my country.

When I was in XI grade, I was hired as a co-host of Mega show X Factor, I have been working successfully on this project for the fourth year and I like my job, my team. As far as I remember myself, I love the scene and being in the center of attention.
After graduating from school, I enrolled in college to learn bartending and after graduation I started working at Holiday Inn Tbilisi. 

I will not tell you about participating in many other projects and activities, but I have to tell you the main thing. I was able to live a full life and feel all levels of life as much as possible. I have a lot of plans and I know for sure that I will achieve everything. 

What is the secret of success?

In my mother’s unwavering support and struggle for change, other mothers like her, full of energy, who know exactly what their children need.
Yes, that's right, we are a strong force together today to drive change for the better in the lives of people with Down Syndrome.

Association is our strength. This is a community organization where people with Down Syndrome and their families come together, we can do everything together!


Nino Tsintsadze - Founder of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association, Head of the Union of Parents and Professionals of Children with Down Syndrome "Our Children"

I am Nino Tsintsadze. Since the birth of my third child, Irakli, in 2005, together with several parents and professionals, I have established the Union of Parents and Professionals of Children with Down Syndrome – “Our Children”.

The name of this organization is related to the translation into Georgian of such textbooks and resources as: Siegfried Poishel "Down Syndrome - Towards a Brighter Future", Patricia Winders' "Gross Motor  Skills in Children with Down Syndrome" and Patricia Logan Alvein "How to Teach reading Children with Down Syndrome". In addition, under the auspices of this union, a protocol for medical supervision of people with Down Syndrome was developed and implemented.

 

In 2006, I founded the Georgian Portage Association and the first early development / intervention program in Georgia, which today serves up to 120 children with various disabilities and their families as well. 

Since 2014, in partnership with foreign universities, I have been developing a new profession in Georgia - communication, language and speech therapy.

Since 2017, I have been the Head of the Master Program in Communication, Language and Speech Therapy at Ilia State University.





Tamar Margishvili - Founder of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association

I am Tamar Margishvili. I was born on December 22, 1967. I am a cloth designer by profession. I have three sons. The younger boy has Down Syndrome. In 2006, together with parents and professionals, we established the Union of Parents and Professionals of Children with Down Syndrome – “Our Children”.  I worked at  Georgian Portage Association, which implements an early development program. 

"Our Children" is one of the founders of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association. I am also a representative of this organization.



Miranda Dzidziguri - Founder of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association

I'm Miranda Dzidziguri. I was born on July 19, 1973. I graduated from Tbilisi State University, Faculty of Philology, and an acting course at the Shota Rustaveli Theater Institute. I also mastered photography.

I have a spouse and three children. One of them was born with 47 chromosomes.

My life and my current activities were determined by the path I took from chromosome 46 to 47. The experience gained along the way has nurtured and given me a vision that is precious and important to me. It’s earth shattering  how one unit of a chromosome could have caused such an expansion of perception and emotional experience. 

Today my interest has gone beyond even such a specific value as having a child and has taken on a more generalized character.

luckily, because of this sensation, I work in our social enterprise "Babale" created by our parents. I am the co-founder of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association and a member of the team of like-minded people. 




Nino Sikharulidze - Full Member of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association

I am Nino Sikharulidze. I was born on December 9, 1974. I am a lawyer by profession. I have a spouse and three children. 

In 2003, my daughter, Kato was born with Down Syndrome. I discovered a lot of new things after her birth. I started to search for information, I got to know fantastic parents with whom I share common problems and goals. 

In 2017, I became a member of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association and became involved in the implementation of various projects.






Sofiko Mirziashvili - Founder of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association

I am Sophiko Mirziashvili, an architect by profession. I was born in 1966. I have been working in my profession for thirty years, at the same time I am a lecturer at the Free University, where I share my experience with students. 

In 2011 I had my third child - Lele. He has Down Syndrome. That is why, in parallel with my main profession, I gradually became involved in public activities, participating in the work of various initiative groups.

In 2017, I became a co-founder of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association, where I am currently a member of the Board. I work to expand the contact base of people with Down Syndrome and their parents and provide information to them.



Nino Kalandia - Full Member of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association

I am Nino Kalandia. I was born on November 23, 1975. I am a specialist of English language and literature by profession. In September 2013, I came to the Tbilisi State Infant House by chance, where I met Ana -  7 month old girl with down syndrome. After leaving the infant house I was constantly thinking about this ginger  girl and finally I decided to go and see her again. In this way I started visiting Ana, first as a volunteer and then I  managed to bring her with me on the weekends.  And finally, on May 1st , 2015, Ana moved to my house. We have been together ever since. In the same year I met the members of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association, wonderful people who gave me a lot of useful advices and helped me a lot.

Unlike other parents of children with Down Syndrome, I have not gone through the first and most difficult stage that every mother who has a child with Down Syndrome goes through  - Anxiety, confusion, fear of the future, silent worries of relatives and friends, not congratulating the birth of a child. However, painlessly neither my story proceeded. When I decided to bring Ana with me, I met a lot of resistance. People came and gave advises not to do this, because it would be very difficult. That a child with Down syndrome is worthless and it is better to adopt a healthy child. At first I tried to explain to these people that exactly Ana I wanted to be my child, specifically Ana. I was trying to explain that I loved Ana and I wanted her to take home. I finally realized that neither quarrel nor nervousness is necessary. You have to do what you want and not listen to anyone. Ana has changed so many things in my life. First of all, I was taught that it is necessary to fight, to fight tirelessly to make people understand the importance of equality. Understand that all people are full members of society and everyone has the right to a dignified life. Along the way I also learned to manage emotions, which turned out to be the most difficult in my case. I have learned that calmly and balancedly delivered information leads to much greater results in the end.  I learned that I should never give up.

I have known the members of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association for a long time. In November 2020, I became an official member of their team. My duty is related to work in the field of international relations in the organization. In addition, I am involved in various projects and in some activities of  “Gigo’s Foundation” as well.

In the Association we all have one common goal - a better future for our children. When I see these women with whom I connect the most important and valuable in my life, I think we can move mountains. And indeed, it is true - we all can move mountains together. For our children. 



Rusudan Mghebrishvili - Founder of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association, Director of the “Gigo’s Foundation”

I am Rusudan Mghebrishvili. I was born in Tbilisi on November 8, 1980. Doctor by profession, co-founder and medical coordinator of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association.

I have experience as a practicing physician as well as working in the private and public sector in terms of health insurance. 

Ever since I was a student, I had a great desire to work in a children’s organization or in charity foundation. In 2014, I gave birth to my third child, a son with Down Syndrome - Erekle, which led to my active involvement in this area and my dream came true naturally without any effort. 

His birth radically changed my life for the better, showed me other values, found me another important function and role in life. In addition to my professional activities, I get involved in community activities, participate in various activities and work of initiative groups. 

In 2017, I became a co-founder of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association and based on my profession - Medical Coordinator. I try my best to be involved in all the activities of the association. Every action I take brings me satisfaction and calmness because I know it is done for the future of people with Down Syndrome, to strengthen their families.

       

Shukia Chincharauli - Founder of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association

I am Shukia Chincharauli. I was born on November 18, 1966. A nurse by profession and a trainer in kinesthetics (movement science). I also combine practical activities with pedagogical activities. I have been teaching patient care at the Nursing College since 2006.

I have only one child - Mirian, who was born in 2009 with Down Syndrome. My professional knowledge and experience have helped me a lot in my relationship with Mirian, however, I have learned more from Mirian and I am still learning. Mirian turned upside down my pre-existing values and views, for which I am grateful to him.

My areas of activity today are directly or indirectly related to the maintenance and development of human health, the promotion of their resources, the protection of their rights and the provision of a dignified life.

That is why I was very happy to get involved in the activities of the Georgian Down Syndrome Association. I am one of the founders of this organization. My activities are mainly in the field of healthcare, but I participate in all activities where I am needed.



Natia Kutidze - Founder of Georgian Down Syndrome Association