MAC Supports Vulnerable Families through the Mshoblis Skivri Page

Founded in 2008, McLain Association for Children, Georgia, provides support, education, and resources for vulnerable persons of all abilities. The NGO does so by building the skills and knowledge of the families and communities that provide these individuals with care. During the 12 years of functioning, MAC Georgia’s reach has grown. With a team of professionals, many of them holding degrees in psychology, MAC has made many lives better. The organization develops and supports a variety of projects, including the establishment of regional parent support centres and the creation of paediatric wheelchair distribution initiative. It also supports ongoing educational endeavours (financially and professionally); and provides expertise on handling disabilities, behavioural management, special needs education, and occupational therapy.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has made many change the platform of their services to continue their work and help the newly-found needs of society. MAC Georgia, too, decided to go remote to reach the people seeking their valued service. In partnership with UNICEF and Ministry of health and through the support of UKAID, MAC Georgia established a TV program called Mshoblis Saati (Parents’ Hour), aired by 1TV. MAC then, again, in partnership with UNICEF, and the Ministry of Health, and with the support of UK Aid, launched Mshoblis Skivri (Parents’ Chest), a Facebook page offering various free online services and resources to parents of children with disabilities. GEORGIA TODAY talked to Maia Bagrationi, the Program Manager, to find out more.

“MAC Georgia, along with other organizations, started thinking about what we could do during the global pandemic, what we did best, and how we could help those most vulnerable during these hard times. We were all interested in how we might connect with parents and give them as much information as possible. Within the frames of this initiative, and with the support of UNICEF, 1TV gave us eight programme hours to air Mshoblis Saati. TV is a good platform to reach many people, since, especially in the villages, many don’t have internet,” Maia tells us.

Wanting the best for the community, MAC soon realized that two hours a week was not enough to help those in need, and the idea of the Mshoblis Skivri Facebook page was born.

“We realized that two hours of TV a week wouldn’t, by itself, produce fundamental changes, so we turned to Facebook, creating a page that would be similar to this TV program, and so a new initiative was born. We now have Mshoblis Saati on TV and Mshoblis Skivri on the internet!” she says.

With the joint Facebook page of the organizations and facilities mentioned above, Mshoblis Skivri has defined the basic needs of children with disabilities and the families that care for them,and adapted their services to these needs. Their biggest focus is academic, emotional and behavioural support for the children. The platform offers Facebook LIVEs hosted by psychologists, experts and fellow parents in connection to the topics discussed on the television program, and more. One service that has proven most popular and effective, Maia tells us, is the tête-à-tête consultation service.

“When we make a Facebook post about a specialists who will host one-to-one consultations that week, we barely have it posted and it’s already full! While of course it’s better when the professional knows the child personally, the advice being more accurate and individualistic, it’s the best we can do during the pandemic and we have found that the parents are really looking for such talks,” Maia shares with us.

MAC Georgia is also looking for ways to support the emotional well-being of the parents, not only instruct them. To this end, MAC has developed some services that serve as therapy for the parents. This particular and other Mshoblis Skivri services, the program manager tells us, have proven to be in such a high demand, and precious for both the staff and the users, that the organization is likely to keep it going even after the coronavirus crisis ceases to exist.

“We think that Mshoblis Skivri will continue even after the pandemic is over. We plan to continue functioning and touching on different important topics. We’re finding that we always have more topics to cover!” she says.

The coronavirus pandemic has become a source of additional problems for children with disabilities and their parents. Other than the stress of the risk of being infected, of losing family income, of getting food and medical and hygienic supplies, these parents have to meet the complex physical, academic, and psychological needs of the children, and do so independently, with the services that usually support them being limited due to the pandemic.

Mshoblis Skivri not only softens these troubles, but also works to make even these times positive. They have launched a kind of encouraging competition: the parents have to snap a photo of their best, happiest moment during the pandemic. The winner will be awarded on June 1, not incidentally, the International Day for the Protection of Children.

By Nini Dakhundaridze

21 May 2020 19:05