Lilia’s Fruitful Opportunities

Hilary MashasGeorgia, Tools Stories

Top: Lilia’s solar heater, Middle: Lilia excitedly talks about her projects, Bottom: Lilia and her solar dryer

The wonderful thing about giving is that if you give one thing to one person, oftentimes they will multiply that one thing into much more. This is exactly what Lilia, a Ukrainian woman in the country of Georgia, has managed to do in her small village.

Lilia and her husband are participants in CWS programs that focus on renewable energy as well as livestock, which are implemented by our talented local partner, Rural Communities Development Agency. Through these programs, Lilia and her family have received a solar heater, solar dryer, beehives and chickens.

On the day we met Lilia, the sun was shining brightly. It was a powerful reminder of what’s possible through renewable energy technologies. Lilia told us that during the summertime, her family is able to rely entirely on their solar heater to generate energy, which allows them to save 25-30% of the money they would normally use on things like firewood and electricity. With the money that they save, Lilia and her husband have been caring for their home, which is around 60 years old. This is especially important to them because Lilia’s husband’s family has been in this village for nearly 400 years! In fact, the name of the district that they live in translates to “here live the Kirias” (Kiria is Lilia’s husband’s last name).

Lilia explained to us that not only are they saving more money, but they are also saving time, which they have invested into new business opportunities. Lilia told us, “The chickens are helpful for us because of the meat and the eggs and because we can also sell the eggs.” Lilia shared with us that it was always her dream to have beehives but that the cost was too high. Through the livestock program, they were gifted the hives and taught how to care for the bees. Lilia’s husband now dedicates his time to developing a special ointment made out of honey and medicinal plants which he dries using the solar dryer. The ointment has been so successful that they are in the process of selling it to pharmacies throughout Georgia.

Lilia and her husband have also learned how to use honey and the fruits and plants dried with the solar dryer to create a medicinal syrup. They have generously distributed this syrup to their friends, family and neighbors for free. Lilia also told us that during the pandemic, they sent the syrup to relatives in Ukraine who had COVID-19 to help relieve their symptoms.

In addition to these gifts, Lilia was also invited to join a women’s savings group. In the group, the members pitch in a small amount of money to create a larger sum that they can pull from to develop their own small businesses. Lilia told us that the group helps her not only financially,  but socially and emotionally as well. She said, “Women who live in villages usually stay at home, but through these groups, we are meeting with the other women at restaurants, cafes and other’s homes.” When we asked her more about this group, a big smile appeared on Lilia’s and she showed us a selfie the group took during their last meeting. “It makes me feel great! Everyone liked it,” she said.

With some simple gifts, Lilia and her family are generating a greater income, developing businesses, creating a legacy for their son and changing the lives of women in the village. We can’t wait to see what more they will do in the years to come.