Club for women who use drugs – freedom, creativity, responsibility

Author: Irma Kakhurashvili

The life story of Nana[1], mother of 4 children, includes 27 years of drug use experience, 3 years in prison, and endless employment problems. Today, Nana is an active member of the Women’s Club, created in Tbilissi, Georgia, by the Tanadgoma – Center for Information and Counseling on Reproductive Health in the framework of the project “Bridging the Gaps: Health and Rights for Key Populations”.

The Club joined dozens of women with similar past. It offers an informal atmosphere where women can share their experiences and develop creativity.

– How did you get involved in the Women’s club?

About a year ago, in the social bureau of Tanadgoma, I was offered services for women: gynaecological and mammological tests. I agreed, because in the Georgian reality, women who use drugs have difficulty with receiving these services, and they are also self-stigmatized, which makes their access to such tests even more difficult.

Actually, apart from medical assistance, Tanadgoma offered me something more – for example, a chance to make ceramics on the basis of a social enterprise. I found it very nice to be involved in such activity and to express myself in a creative way. Once I visited the Rehabilitation center “Tanadgoma” in Gremi and found out about the Women’s Club.

– What is the idea of creating the Club?

Many women who use drugs do not want to be visible for society and remain underground because of stigma. Identifying women who use drugs is always problematic. The Club, in my opinion, helps to socialise these women and unite them.

The idea of creating the Club belongs to the psychologist Lela Kurdgelashvili. Women who use drugs always told her about their desire to have a suitable place for meetings, where they could share their problems and experiences, feeling comfortable. And now the Club is an island where women can demonstrate their creativity. Some of them write, others draw, knit, and sculpt while talking about their problems – health, legal issues and much more. Sometimes we watch themed movies together. We have such meetings twice a week.

Participation in Club meetings develops many good qualities in women, including creativity and responsibility. But unfortunately, due to the specific rhythm of life, such women usually are afraid to show that.

– Is it planned to link the Club’s activities with the existing printing and ceramic social enterprises in the Tanadgoma center?

Participants of the club support the idea of ​​using the resources of these enterprises and learning how to create a quality product that can be sold. This could benefit the Club, and we might have some income.

The founder of the Club thinks that at this stage we can create products specifically for the LGBT community – for example, thematic accessories which are hard to find in Georgia (mostly people order them from abroad). At the moment, production is in test mode. We have already found a young professional master and photographer who can help us with this idea. We will use Instagram for sale. Also, soon we will make a portfolio of works from ceramics, prints, and handmade accessories.

[1] Name was changed

 

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