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But the simple act of earning money — and the ability to do so — is invaluable, the priest says.

“When you can go to the bazaar and buy what you want with your money, you are already someone,” he notes. “When a woman can go buy what she wants without having to ask for money from her husband or her family because she has work, she has money, the relations change in the family — there is more respect. Her husband sees she is helping to pay for the electricity, for the gas.”

And, for women who are not yet married, he adds, learning a skill such as enamel work can make them more cautious about rushing into a marriage just for the sake of getting married. This is an important shift in mentality in Georgia, the priest adds, where domestic abuse remains prevalent and women are often trapped in abusive relationships because they cannot financially support themselves or their children.

That shift in attitude — not just about money, but also about personal behavior — is an integral part of art therapy, noted Caritas Georgia’s Tamar Sharashidze.

“Our children often come from very troubled families, and many children suffer from psychological problems,” she says. The art programs provide a therapeutic creative outlet, and can contribute to a vital sense of structure in life.

“If a child comes to us and is behaving poorly or aggressively, after some time this slowly improves,” she reports. “A child who before perhaps couldn’t sit still for five minutes, after six months is calmly sitting and creating something. This is very important.”

Artist David Kakabadze also stresses that a degree of stillness is necessary to produce quality enamel jewelry — just as a strong spiritual life and a real respect for the church is necessary to create enamel mosaics and icons.

Ketevani Grdzelishvili, one of the enamel instructors at Caritas Georgia’s Youth Center, agrees that once people have the skill to make jewelry, they are a step closer to a better life.

“This provides them with the means to earn a minimum level of income,” she says, adding that the demand is high as classes in enamel arts are otherwise expensive. For those vulnerable teenagers participating in the program sponsored by Caritas Georgia, and the young adults attending the workshops at Mar Shemmon Bar Sabbae Church, there are no expenses even for materials, which are costly. That means these programs are very expensive for Caritas Georgia and the parish to maintain.

At the Chaldean parish, Yulia Abramov can only work effectively with one person at a time in a spare room in the parish center, which has been outfitted with a work bench and a small stove. However, unlike the Caritas Georgia Youth Center, the parish does not have a proper oven to finish the pieces; Ms. Abramov has to take them to a different studio for completion.

On a windy Monday afternoon in December, the girls at Caritas Georgia are making pendants — on other days other students work on earrings and icons during their time in the studio.

For Keti, 18, busy creating a tranquil blue and green pendant, the work is not hard and she enjoys being able to produce something with her hands.

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