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“Before, even the police did not even know how to act. They used to say, ‘It is your family, everything will be fine’; ‘he is drunk now, but tomorrow it will be different’; ‘don’t worry — if anything happens, call us.’ But now they have different instructions and better training,” she says.

“This campaign is really strong.”

Through Caritas Georgia and its St. Barbara Center, the nation’s Catholic churches (whose members account for less than 1 percent of the population of 5 million people) are playing an important role in society’s efforts to provide the resources women need to protect themselves and their children. Since it opened, the center has helped 19 mothers and 15 of their children.

Caritas Georgia takes care of all the needs of the mothers and their children while they are there — a family doctor sees them on site, a cook ensures they receive nourishing meals and a psychologist is available for counseling. The center’s team of professionals helps register school-age children for kindergarten or grade school and help the mothers either look for work or receive the training they need to find work.

Over the course of the year, the objective of the team at the center is to give the women the skills to provide for their children. It also tries to help the women begin to heal the emotional wounds caused by the abuse they have received. When possible, they work with the women and their extended families to help them forge healthier relationships.

Moreover, the residents receive free legal services, which have successfully helped women protect themselves from their abusers, noted Ms. Bakradze.

Legal services have been particularly useful for Thea and her son. While her former partner let her leave without a fight, he soon began to stalk her. Caritas Georgia, together with legal counsel, was able to help her secure a restraining order and is helping her prepare for further legal action against him, if necessary.

The center has given Thea the confidence to start planning a future for her and her son.

When she first arrived, she was convinced she would not be able to provide for Gabriel and, as with many mothers in Georgia, she was planning to seek work abroad — likely in Turkey. After five months at the center, however, she now plans to remain with her son and build a life together in Georgia.

Finding a job is her highest priority today and, she says, the most important assistance any program can offer a single mother. With a certificate in restaurant staff management, experience working in several restaurants and fluency in several languages, Thea’s prospects seem bright.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many mothers come to the center without employable skills, and face greater uncertainty as a result. While unemployment in Georgia has fallen to the lowest point in a decade, Georgia still reported an unemployment rate of 11.8 percent as of 2016 — with rates tending higher for the younger segments of the workforce.

Echoing Thea, Ms. Bakradze agrees that employment is “the most important thing” for the women at the center — a crucial part of ensuring the women will be able to keep their children.

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