21 October 2009 World ORT opens first ever project in Georgia World ORT has launched its first ever project in Georgia an expansion of its highly successful partnership with Project Kesher to provide ICT training for refugees from last years war in the region as well as other vulnerable members of society. Thanks to a grant from the Rochlin Foundation, Jewish and non-Jewish women in Gori and Tblisi are accessing courses in a range of computer skills to help them find good jobs and develop careers. This is the first time in World ORTs 130-year history that it has had operations in Georgia so it is a landmark for the organisation, said David Benish, World ORT Representative to the Countries of the Former Soviet Union. But it comes at a critical time for Georgia. Part of Gori was destroyed in bombing one year ago and people there are living in very difficult conditions. So it is very important that World ORT is available to help them. Moris Krikheli, who works at the new ORT-KesherNet in Tblisi, agreed. It is little more than one year since the war with Russia and people are now fighting to make a future for themselves and their families, Mr Krikheli said. Now they have ORT-KesherNet to help them. This is a sign of regeneration and a provider of hope. The Director of the ORT-KesherNet Centre in Gori, Lela Dzorelashvili, Svetlana Yakimenko, and the Director of the ORT KesherNet Centre in Tula, Elena Feldman, celebrate the opening of the centre. There is no doubt that ORT-KesherNet, which already provides computer training and job skills to women particularly those in vulnerable circumstances at 15 centres in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, will prove to be a valuable communal asset in Georgia. Its track record speaks for itself: more than 14,000 graduates, 80 per cent of whom have improved their economic situation and at a cost of less than $100 per student. In addition, most graduates have become more engaged in improving their communities through volunteerism or philanthropy. Staff members at the new centres aim to maximise the number of people helped by keeping courses to six weeks in length. Courses include the teaching of book keeping, graphic design and other programmes to women in vulnerable situations, such as single mothers. Other courses, being developed in cooperation with local municipalities, target those affected by last years war so that they can acquire the skills they need to improve their circumstances. And the third target group includes people already in work, for example in banks, who need to raise their skills level. Candidates for the courses are found through ORT-KesherNets cooperation with municipalities and local non-government organisations. We met the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Rusudan Kervalishvili, and told her about ORT-KesherNet, said Mr Krikheli. She thought it was a wonderful programme and we hope that this will open the door to government funding for further courses. For example, Georgia is developing its tourism sector so there is a demand for skilled people to work in this area of the economy from waiters to managers. The opening ceremonies of the ORT-KesherNet centres attracted representatives of Jewish organisations, other NGOs and municipalities. They all emphasised the importance of this project and expressed their gratitude for the opportunities these centres will provide women to acquire new knowledge and skills, said Project Keshers representative in Georgia, Zizi Shaptoshvili. Project Kesher connects 165 Jewish womens groups and more than 90 multi-ethnic, multi-religious coalitions of women and is, like World ORT, committed to Jewish renewal in the countries of the Former Soviet Union and to strengthening the economic and social conditions of the Jewish community and that of wider society.