We Can do Business with You: Becho, Svaneti

We Can do Business with You - That was what Margaret Thatcher said to Mikhail Gorbachev when both were the leaders of their countries. There’s work to do, but we can do it; the obstacles aren’t insurmountable.

When I enter Becho School, I feel the same way. The building is huge and old, much too much so for its present population of about seventy pupils rattling around by handfuls in their classrooms, which are too hard to heat with so few live bodies in them and falling apart a bit anyway. But, the spirit!

One of the teachers, Raia, for art, is such an energetically positive soul that her work and that of her pupils is displayed everywhere. Frescoes adorn the corridors and rooms, along with patriotic and literary quotations. When there is a special day, such as Mother Language Day, posters go up celebrating the event, along with a concert of music, poetry and dance in which everyone down to Grade 1 participates, to wild applause and much appreciation.

The school is blessed with a huge grassed yard, in which a few evergreens also flourish; there is a volleyball net and football field set up, too.

Now, it’s not all perfect; there are things missing or needed, as I mentioned in my last article. But the collective personality of the place is such that I want to help, to participate in making things here better because my work won’t be stolen, vandalized, ignored or otherwise misused.

We settled on a computer room as the main lacking feature, especially in this day and age of internet and needs for programming skills in so many spheres. The room itself is there, and in it sit an ancient Soviet-era voltage regulator and a functioning internet hub, servicing the one computer in the teachers’ room. But that’s it. The teacher of the subject has nothing to teach with or from.

The needs include: eight full sets of computers and their programs; floor and wall renovation; a heater; a lock for the steel door; renovation of wiring and plugs; a more modern voltage regulator; a scanner and printer; some desks and chairs; lighting; six video “eyes” for the school’s corridors and entrance; a video projector and screen. The teaching, learning, enthusiasm and long-term life-changing results are already waiting in the wings.

As a volunteer English teacher in Becho school, I am asking for the funds to buy and supply the above list of things to outfit a first-class computer room. 100% of funds raised will go towards this project, and I will oversee and monitor its implementation from start to finish, as I am at the school on a regular basis. And the journalist in me will also write in future about the success of the project and how it is affecting the lives of an entire school, high up in the Svan Caucasus, far away but brought right into to the world through the power of connection.

Tony Hanmer runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1300 members, at


He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:


Tony Hanmer

28 April 2016 21:49