Sweet Success for Georgian Returnees at SDG Festival

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Thousands of Georgians gathered in the mountain town of Ambrolauri for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Festival 2019 last weekend. The local population and municipalities were joined by Georgian Government, civil society, embassies, international organizations all with one aim  - to leave no one behind.  The festival opened with inspirational talks on sustainable development and a robotics session for youth. 

The SDG Festival showcased a colourful display of activities related to the SDGs – sport events, interactive workshops, SDG talks, exhibitions, a fair of local agricultural products and a concert featuring well-known Georgian artists.  

IOM Georgia participated in the main event of the festival - the farmers’ market, selling wine and honey produced by IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Programme (AVRR) beneficiaries, returnees from Greece and Switzerland. The money from sales of these products will allow  IOM to open a migration corner in Ambrolauri library equipped with globes, maps, and travel books.

The festival concluded with the addresses from the President of Georgia (pictrured below, inspecting the IOM wine) form UN and government officials, and a concert featuring well-known Georgian artists.

IOM’s Chief of Mission in Georgia, Sanja Celebic Lukovac said “we work closely with other UN Agencies in Georgia and we actively promote the SDG implementation efforts of the Government. This year we presented products of our returnees from Greece and Switzerland as an example of their successful reintegration. They left Georgia several years ago, but now they are back, doing what they love. The theme of this year’s SDG festival is Leave No One Behind and IOM is happy to be able to reach out to and support migrants in need.”

Raphiel, who returned from Switzerland is now a successful apiarist, with 16 hives on the go.  “I have good knowledge and experience in beekeeping. After return from Switzerland, I was able continue my family business in Tskaltubo. As part of the reintegration support I purchased 16 bee hives and now we produce and sell linden and chestnut honey. This year my product was presented during the festival, which was very exciting, especially since our product received many compliments from locals, who are themselves experts in honey production, and from international guests”.