This Thanksgiving We’re Saying “Didi Madloba!”

November 23, 2022

Two members from the CWS Communications team just returned from a content acquisition trip in Georgia and Serbia. This thanksgiving, they are reflecting on the experiences they shared with CWS colleagues, partners and program participants. Read their thoughts below!

Abby Becker, CWS Content Acquisition Manager:

CWS staff and partners gather around the table at program participant’s home in Kavta, Georgia

Since arriving back home from a recent communications trip to eastern Europe, my mind drifts back to the previous week and the time spent with some incredible people. My colleagues and I traveled across the Republic of Georgia gathering stories and photographing program participants of CWS’s local partner, Rural Community Development Agency (RCDA). From the eastern side of the country to the west – we were greeted with such warmth and generosity. Thanksgiving came early for me this year.

Sitting around a table lovingly packed to the brim with dishes both savory and sweet, I was quickly reminded of our upcoming holiday. As many are traveling this week to visit friends and family for Thanksgiving, I realized that the traditions centered around gratitude and coming together were on the regular for the families we met with. These individuals radiated gratitude and appreciation for the partnership with both CWS and RCDA. That appreciation was shared with us in the form of an amazing spread of food, countless times.

It was amazing to see firsthand the change taking place for these communities. Steps are being taken to improve daily life through livestock distribution, fuel-efficient wood stoves and solar energy technology installments (like, water heaters and food dryers).

Being invited into the lives of our program participants, even if for an hour, is truly an honor. I was over 6,300 miles from home and yet it felt like I was gathering with friends and family. The opportunity to hear from families we’re working with, take their picture and share with the CWS community is a gift I’ll cherish forever. During this season of thanksgiving, I’m grateful for these families. I’m grateful for the work being done by RCDA and I’m grateful to have shared a meal with new friends.

Mariana Gama, CWS Program Communications Specialist:

At CWS when we talk about our work and our wonderful program participants, we often use the word “neighbor” to depict a sense of welcome, closeness and community. While I’ve always known the meaning of this word, during my recent CWS trip in Eastern Europe, I developed a true understanding of why we use this word.

Mariana and Abby with program participant Jermal and his son Tornike

From village to village in Georgia, we were generously welcomed into the homes of our program participants where were greeted by smiling faces and incredible smells that tickled our noses and invited us to take a seat at the table. In those living rooms and kitchens, the word “neighbor” gained new meaning for me. Gathered at the table with our team and program participants, our differences in nationality, language or beliefs disappeared and we became simply neighbors sharing a warm meal. The table gave the illusion of a never-ending meal as plates were constantly refilled and new food was brought out. This magic continued in the food we ate which was not only delicious but displayed an unbelievable amount of love and effort put into making it.

In Georgia, Abby and I asked many times how to say different things in Georgian but by the end of our trip, only one had stuck: “didi madloba”, thank you very much. With the number of times we heard this phrase from our program participants and the number of times we said it back, it was bound to stick. As we left the homes of our friendly Georgian neighbors with full hearts and bellies, we all said in thanksgiving, “didi madloba!”.

Traditional Georgian food served for CWS staff and partners during visit in Georgia

As I look back at these experiences, what fills my heart with joy and gratitude is the new understanding of what a neighbor truly is: an open home and a shared sense of community. This Thanksgiving I am thankful for our neighbors around the world and the global community I have the honor to be a part of.

From all of us at CWS to you, “didi madloba!”. Thank you for being our neighbor and a part of our community.