Finding Paradise in Tbilisi

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When one travels at home and abroad, it is hard not to be affected by the struggles that we witness. Yet, with a few exceptions (Surviving in the Philippines and Mississippi Delta), I typically choose not to share images that highlight the depth of those challenges. However, I think that from time to time, a reminder of how lucky some of us are is needed. Well, I know I need it.

This blog post focuses on a settlement of families in Tbilisi, Georgia, which are referred to as “socially vulnerable”. This is the label used by social services to describe families that are gravely economically challenged, and are struggling for daily survival. The children in this community are often “off-the-grid”, meaning they have no official papers; no birth certificate or other proof of citizenship (or existence, for that matter), which implies no access to school or social services. Without intervention, the most likely outcome for these children is that they will work in the street either begging, panhandling, or worse.

When we reached this settlement, we met Nazi, a 9 year-old who did not have a birth certificate until the day we left. When we asked her to show us around, she quickly agreed and said: “We live in nature, it is beautiful here, it is paradise.”

Below are a few images of Nazi’s paradise (she appears in the first image). Also, here is a link (My Paradise) to a slideshow that includes these images and more. Have a look (and turn up the volume ;-))

Nazi, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you have given me.


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P.S. For better viewing enjoyment, click on the title of the post to get to the website.

P. P.S. You can follow me on Instagram at franceleclerc

This entry was posted in Europe, Georgia, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , .


  1. Jeremy Woodhouse October 9, 2016 at 18:00 #

    France, you are very good at this fringe lifestyle photography. Nice job!

    • franceleclerc October 10, 2016 at 16:52 #

      Thank you Jeremy. I must be a fringe at heart. See you soon.

  2. Sally Bucko October 9, 2016 at 19:40 #

    Beautiful photos and moving story! Thank you, France!

    • franceleclerc October 10, 2016 at 16:56 #

      Sally. Thanks for taking the time. Sadly, as you know very well, there are many stories like this all over the world.

  3. Alison October 9, 2016 at 23:51 #

    I can’t even imagine . . . . . .
    How unbelievably lucky we to have been born where we were.
    Beautiful photos as always.

    • franceleclerc October 10, 2016 at 16:58 #

      Thank you Alison. We are lucky indeed. Wish I did not need to be reminded of it so often. But I am trying 😉

  4. Amina Naili October 10, 2016 at 13:55 #

    Powerful…Thank you France for this moving paradise,beautiful lesson of life and your photos,always .

    • franceleclerc October 10, 2016 at 17:05 #

      Dear Amina. Thank you for visiting. It was a powerful experience for me, I am glad my images could convey some of it. Warmly, France

  5. Julie Manley October 10, 2016 at 16:10 #

    Beautiful. Yes, I have always found travelling an amazing, humbling, and frequently disturbing, experience.

    • franceleclerc October 10, 2016 at 17:08 #

      Thanks Julie. Well, travelling allows one to see things we don’t see at home, and that can be a little unsettling. In this case however, I can probably see similar stories going on near me. Sadly.

  6. Emilie October 18, 2016 at 23:11 #

    I just saw a film of a Syrian boy aged 9 , no family , living in a cave near where war is raging . Children are remarkable as your pictures show .But one can only have a heavy heart knowing what will become of them. What will Nazi think of paradise as the years pass and the world changes ? As you mentioned, one of the greatest threat to a child’s security is the lack of a birth certificate/documentation.
    The picture with the nail polishes all lined up on the dresser behind the young girl and the dolls and Teddy Bears on the bed is amazing…no different to the many young girls all over the world..dreaming is food for soul.