Givi Avaliani is among the few bloggers in Georgia who rarely write about personal experience and instead focus on online campaigns and charity activities in Georgia in the country. He lives in Kutaisi, which is second largest city in the country.
NET PROPHET: More than 120,000 people have visited your blog during last year, which is a large number for Georgia, what are the reasons for this?
GIVI AVALIANI: Honestly, I don’t know. I haven’t done much for it. Probably I was at the right place at the right time. Maybe there was certain need from visitors for what I do, writing about social problems of different people instead of writing about my everyday life. May be one of the reasons for my success is that I do not live in the capital and do not look at life from the perspective of that city.
When I started, my posts were about art and cultural life in Imereti region, and in the country as well. I was also posting about problems concerning homophobia and religious issues, which got a huge feedback. In addition, I used to expose my friends’ translations of different foreign socialist poets. In about 5-6 months I started writing about political events developing in the country. Meanwhile, I discovered that I have permanent visitors.
NP: So who, and what, was your inspiration?
GA: Inspiration is the poverty of the people who live around me, also violations of human rights happening in the country and my friends, who used to tell me that I had good start up and needed to switch to do something more significant. Nowadays, the most important activity for me is my job. I am an interviewer for a research company, therefore I have to travel to the four regions in the country. The problems regular people have in the regions and in rural areas have had a big effect on my life. There are so many issues to cover since so many cases of injustice happen. The only thing you have to do is to describe the situation, sort out people’s opinions, review their attitudes and approaches, then analyze, write and publish.
NP: How many people have you assisted and how much money id have you managed to accumulate?
GA: We first helped the Jimsheleishvili’s, a family with five kids in Tskahltubo municipality, who lived below the poverty line. In order to support the family, I arranged several events with my friends, and as a result we managed to collect 600GEL (450$). Later, with my friends I created an initiative group. Right now we intend to support the Jamadze family who live in Kutaisi. Mery Jamadze has 4 children, two of them have serious health problems. The family is not able to afford the bank loan they took to undergo the medical treatment for their children. As a result Jamadze family nearly lost their house, however we organised a concert and a charity auction and collected 1,800$, which gave them opportunity to pay back the bank loan.
NP: What are the main problems you and your friends face while fulfilling the projects you are working on?
GA: Very often the the problems are the people themselves. During online promoting, we received bad and cruel comments like, “yes, I do understand their situation, I sympathize them, but why they did they have four children”? Or, “why don’t either the government or church support them”.
NP: What do you think is the role of social media in society, and is social media properly used in Georgia?
GA: We have already seen many cases of demonstrations and protests organised through social media tools, such activities brought about revolutions in several countries. Many famous bloggers have been arrested because of their activities. What is happening in Georgia? Georgian bloggers meet Ministers and other representatives from the government. Our authoritarian government that controls the main TV Channels has recently discovered the importance of social media and organised several meeting with bloggers. I do not think that this is a disaster, just the opposite. even writing about what a blogger eats or does on a daily basis can cause some useful activities. It can create the space where bloggers who write about problematic issues will be leaders and most readable because lots of people face social and other kinds of injustice in our country. It is obvious that there is no civil society in Georgia. Different segments of society do not express solidarity with one another, but do care instead about their owns interests. In addition, there is a shortage of education in many fields, many people do not know about their basic rights.
NP: The number of the visitors is supposed to be almost one of the important for all bloggers, is there any number of visitors you are planning to reach?
GA: At the beginning the number of visitors were utterly important for me, it was like a marathon, a sport competition where I wanted to beat my opponents. However, after a while I realized that it couldn’t bring any useful results. You’d better possess whim of doing something rather than winning someone.
Photo is from Givi’s Facebook account