Building Connections in Georgia’s Remote Mountainous Communities

Speeches Shim

Monday, March 8, 2021
Nodar Tokhosashvili

Nodar Tokhosashvili is a civic activist, farmer, and park ranger from the village of Vakisopeli in Ukanapshavi. To his friends and colleagues, he’s known as “Ecoboy”.

Nodar has always believed that Georgia’s mountainous regions had tremendous potential for growth. Since childhood he has tended livestock and kept a vegetable garden at his home in Vakisopeli. When he grew up, he came to see the village in a new light, with the need for development projects that could create opportunities for local residents.

“There was no mobile service, no Internet, no electricity. The village, home to five families, was completely isolated from the world” – says Nodar.

Several years ago, Nodar created a Facebook page named “Mountain Products,” where customers in Tbilisi and other cities could buy fresh food produced by Nodar and by other residents of the village. Because Vakisopeli had no Internet connection, Nodar had to travel to Dusheti to manage the e-commerce side of the business.

He decided that there had to be a better way, not only for his business, but for other members of his community. For the next 4-5 years, along with local youth, Nodar advocated for mobile phone and Internet connectivity and worked to raise awareness about the issues facing the village.

Finally, with the help of his neighbors and support from the local government and from a mobile services provider, Nodar’s efforts succeeded. The use of telephones and the Internet has become a reality in villages across Ukanapshavi.

Now, Nodar is using his story to inspire other people, not only in his region, but across Georgia:  “It’s crucial that young people start somewhere. They will have to overcome a lot of obstacles, but the more problems they solve, the more they will learn. They’ll help their neighbors and will find new ways to do meaningful work. Problem solving helps people grow and become stronger” – says Nodar.

As for his day job, Nodar is a ranger in Pshav-Khevsureti National Park, where he continues to care for the region.

Last updated: March 12, 2021

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