Our story began when seven young people got together and formed an initiative group called "Dwarves". The group consisted of a former pupil of the Free Waldorf School Tbilisi, some kindergarten teachers who had just finished their training and one teacher, also from the school in Tbilisi. Our shared goal was to open a Waldorf kindergarten and school, where none had existed before, in Batumi. Batumi lies on the Black Sea coast. In the last two decades the city has changed. The old, broken-down infrastructure was replaced by a modern one, high-rise buildings were constructed, the city grew and year by year, the number of tourists increased rapidly. These changes have brought diversity, openness and an international flavour - a good basis for an educational approach that is unknown in this place.
The project team was accompanied by Professor Georg Schumacher, lecturer at the Free University of Applied Sciences, Stuttgart. On 24th December 2017, Georg held a lecture on Waldorf Education for potential parents and interested people. Many parents already knew about Waldorf Education from their friends in Tbilisi, where the Waldorf Kindergarten is well known and popular. They expressed their happiness at the imminent arrival of Waldorf Education in Batumi and they are already helping quite a lot.The search for a suitable building was, and still is, not easy. One of our main concerns is to keep the fees for the parents low. The economic situation in Georgia is relatively bad and where there are tourists, especially in Batumi, prices are high. Moreover, the city is densely populated, which seems makes our goal of finding a good building with a garden, at a reasonable price, almost impossible. So, first of all, we rented a flat without a garden in the centre of the city and a few months later, we found a house with a garden on the outskirts of the city.
But then came the Corona crisis and two years’ work were plunged into question. In March 2020, all the kindergartens in Georgia were closed, and remained so until this autumn. In the meantime, who pays rent on the building? With donations from Germany we are hopeful of surviving this public health crisis. Nevertheless, we need to buy our own building, because this is also a basic requirement for the founding of a Waldorf School in the future.
This time of separation and social distancing affects the kindergarten especially hard because, of course, the processes of learning in early childhood cannot unfold online. Nevertheless, the kindergarten teachers and parents have found ways to continue the work: teachers recorded podcasts for the children's parents, offered them support and advice on how to look after the children in a time of quarantine. In this way, the teachers continued what was already a large part of our educational work: working with the parents. In the last two years we have organised parent workshops on a regular basis, which the parents have attended with great interest and openness.
These positive experiences encourage us to continue, despite all the circumstances. We are grateful for every donation and every piece of advice!