Eurasianet photo essay

Melons[ edit ] Melon vendor from SamarkandRussian Turkestan picture taken around to In the culinary arena, Turkmenistan is perhaps most famous for its melonsespecially in the former Soviet Unionwhere it was once the major supplier.

Eurasianet photo essay

Photographer John Smock recently visited the facility at Avchala, documenting the lives of the 23 boys who now call it home.

Avchala is located about 20 miles 30 km outside of Tbilisi, Eurasianet photo essay not far from the Mtkvari River and up a dusty road patrolled by a surprising number of chickens and goats. The ministry of justice generated the revenue for the renovation from fees for issuing passports and other identity documents.

From the outside, the facility looks like any small jail — high walls, barbed wire and watchtowers at the corners. To enter, one passes through first a solid metal outer door for an I. The heavy thud of its closing is as universal a sound as it is foreboding. Once inside, the facility is notably different than other jails in Georgia.

Only a little more than eight months old, the facility embodies a progressive plan to rehabilitate rather than simply incarcerate young criminals — a big step for Georgia, which only a few years ago was criticized internationally for its policies supporting the execution of juveniles found guilty of serious crimes.

The facility is designed to accommodate up to youths. At present, the 23 inmates range in age from 11 to Most Avchala inmates are petty thieves, the result of growing up in the streets and institutions. A few are guilty of more serious crimes — rape, murder, assaulting a police officer. The boys are an odd, awkward bunch, capable of turning from a shyness and insecurity to violent outburst in only a moment.

Older boys dominate younger in what seems a "Lord of the Flies" social order.

Eurasianet photo essay

Some move in inseparable partnerships, light-hearted and engaging. Others are more solitary, coiled in a brooding sort of rage.

But much of their day is spent in classrooms, or in other structured activity. Though Avchala has guards like any other jail, its administrative staff is made up of men with backgrounds in social work and education rather than criminal justice.

The boys — most had little or no formal education, prior to arrival at Avchala — attend school taught by volunteer teachers from the surrounding community. They also meet individually and in groups with two female therapists who have been assigned here three days a week by the state.

A room has even been set aside for family, though visits are few. Georgian Orthodox Christian icons are everywhere. Soon a small chapel will be built at a spot now marked only by a wooden cross.

Those who deal with the boys at Avchala list a variety of problems no different than those faced by boys in similar circumstances around the world — young psyches crippled by abuse, abandonment and little or no family or community support. Whether this program will make a difference is yet unknown.

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The cycle of poverty and crime is often inalterable. The hope here is that education, therapy and a sense of belonging might give these boys a chance. But already foreign NGO workers in Georgia express concern that, like so many good ideas, the program is threatened by pervasive corruption.Follow Eurasianet.

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You can add location information to your Tweets, such as your city or precise location, from the web and via third-party applications. Their first stop is a wooded valley north of Akkyya, where they spend about six weeks.

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