I have been working as a care worker since the first lockdown in 2020 and find it hard to get the time to write. I would really like to take time out and get my manuscript written. Which means for me to go to a remote place in countryside where I can get enough peace to write it, with my condition (Asperger and PtsD) I find it hard to concentrate in the crazy world we live in.
Many people, friends and colleagues, have urged me to write my story for years as they say, it should be out there for people to read.
My needs are very small, I can survive on very little.
Here some of my story.
I was born in Prenzlau in East Germany in 1970. My father was Indonesian, and my mother was German. My parents were forced to separate by the East German government before I was born. Not long after being born, my mother returned to Russia to finish her studies at university, I was left to live with my maternal grandmother, my mother did not return till I was two years old, and when she came back, she moved us away from the place and people I knew. I suffered a lot of bullying growing up from being mixed race, at least I thought, that was the reason. I was often called names quite a bit and suffered from racism, as well as physical bullying. My mother would not give me much freedom as she might have been ashamed to have a mixed-race child and was very strict.
After long term relationship and one failed marriage I eventually met a man and fell in love and married again, he was also mixed race, (father Chechen, mother German) we had two children together, both girls.
But in early 2011 (after a miscarriage in the year before) he informed me, he no longer loved me, he wanted more children I did not. He offered to send me to Pankisi to learn the language of his forefathers. He knew, I was good at languages, and he wanted me to learn Chechen and teach him, in exchange for providing me money to live.
He bought a plane ticket with an open return and gave enough money for food for some months. I saw it as a chance to get away from him, the hardest part was leaving my girls behind, having never slept a single night without them.
I arrived in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, and took transport to the place where I would stay for several months, at least that was, what I thought.
When I arrived in Duisi, the first of the eight villages, that snake along the Alazani River, I didn’t know anybody, nor could I speak the language, just my Russian learnt in school helped me to communicate.
I asked the first local people near the bus stop, where I could find someone to teach me Chechen, and half hour later I had found tuition and free accommodation with a family who had found refuge during the First Russian Chechen war in Pankisi.
I quickly learnt the language, walking every day around the villages and the locals gave me the name Khedi, which is derived from Khadishat, prophet Mohammed’s wife.
After a few weeks/months under pressure of the local Iman, my hosts told me I had to move, which I did and moved in with another Kist family (Kist is the Georgian word for the ethnic Chechens living in Pankisi).
Several months later my husband got in touch, he informed me, he had no interest in the original plan, he had moved on and I shouldn’t bother coming back.
I moved up into the mountains into a small shepherd’s hut with no heating, no electric or running water, I lived mostly off bread and cheese. Seeing the beauty of being on the top of those mountains, I really fell in love with the mountains, I began to walk further to the villages of Khevsureti, Tusheti and Pshavi, where the world seems to have stopped one/two hundred years ago. I had no money, so walking was my only option, and because of this, I got that connection to people, and started to take photographs with my phone.
By this time, I had learned to speak Georgian as well, I memorized the labyrinth of unmarked trails from Pankisi into the mountains.
When I eventually returned to Tbilisi, a German travel agency offered me a job as a guide, to lead their tourists through the Northeast part of the mountains, which I accepted.
Everywhere I went people knew me and welcomed me.
After a journalist wrote an article about me for BBC, I had an exhibition in 2015, organised by the Georgian embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The following years I have guided journalists and photographers through the mountains, I knew as if I was born there.
In 2017 the Georgian government revoked my temporary residence permit, despite having a Georgian partner, I had a real battle with the authorities to stay and even have a petition to stay signed by many people, but in the end I could no longer stay in the country, even after all I have done for tourism in Georgia.
I currently live in Scotland and work as a carer looking after the elderly, which I enjoy, but I long to be back among my mountains and the place I called home.