As my first month spent in EVS ended, I visited the small village of Lemshveniera, the last Georgian village before the Azerbaijan border. Located on the shores of Lake Jandara, the place has undergone profound changes in the course of history, as a student from the small school on the edge of this village of 700 families told me.
The place used to be a prison surrounded by a forest planted and maintained by the prisoners. In order to bring the neighboring countries borders expansion to a halt, the Georgian government decided to found a village, whose inhabitants decided to cut down the forest to sell the wood to Turkey, felling several hundred trees on the first day only. To this day, all that is left from the once large woodland are some sparse trees across the wide plain facing the houses.
During the Cold War, the village was the site of one of the largest farms in the Soviet Union until an outbreak of anthrax -which origins are still discussed- decimated the livestock. Even today, one can see the ruins of the buildings of this large agricultural complex.
Situated a few kilometers away, Lake Jandara has also its share of trivia : the sharing of this large body of water between the two countries was settled -according to a legend- with a knife throwing contest between two local rulers, which saw the deepest part of the lake fall in the hands of Azerbaijan.
Another interesting fact is that the inhabitants of Lemshveniera are, in a way, eco-refugees : originally coming from Svaneti -a mountainous region in northwestern Georgia-, they decided to migrate to the southeastern part of the country due to the several landslides, floods and avalanches that punctuated the last decades.
The purpose of the trip was to organize a meeting to set up the beginnings of a cooperation program between the small school of 200 students and the Rustavi scout center. My coordinator and myself had the pleasure to meet the class of Mr. ... - History teacher at the origin of the project - to make a short presentation about the International Scout Center of Rustavi, to spend some time with the students, only to finish with a convivial meal involving numerous toasts of homemade wine.
A wonderful moment that will not be forgotten.