Every morning, a soup kitchen in Tbilisi's small southeastern suburban district fills up with people holding white canes in one hand and canvas bags in the other. After waiting in the line for a few minutes, they leave the canteen carrying a loaf of bread and a plastic container full of hot soup. Some stay by the canteen building, grouping in the spot warmed by the winter sun to discuss the latest rumors and political news. Others head back to their homes, scanning their way through the alley with their white canes.
The canteen is a part of the settlement located in Tbilisi’s district of Ponichala, where many residents are either completely blind or vision challenged.
Built in the early Soviet era, the district stretches along the highway connecting Tbilisi and Rustavi, an industrial town some 20 kilometers southeast of the Georgian capital. Initially, it consisted of a few two-story dormitories and the factory. Later a library and a cultural center were added to the settlement. Until the 1970s the area was surrounded by a wall that separated the settlement from the rest of the city.
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Temo Bardzimashvili is a freelance photojournalist based in Tbilisi.