Abkhazian April of Mauricia Jenkins
11.05.2012 00:00April in Abkhazia is a month of the most gentle greens and intense odors: wisteria is blooming, fragrans lour, jasmine, lilac, acacia, azaleas and other favorites of the gods. Choosing April for a visit to Abkhazia, Maurizia Jenkins was fully right - for an Italian lady, who does not imagine her life without flowers, one could not choose more fortunate time.
Although not only natural beauty drew her to come here - at the turn of the century her husband, a British Ambassador, Richard Jenkins and she were keenly interested in our country. They often came and did a lot for a progress of a free press, NGOs and small business. A little later, Maurizia worked for several years as a senior political adviser to the UN mission and continued to stick to her line – she got international funding for a variety of projects, like a publication of books on the Abkhazian Folklore and opening of a hairdresser in Gal district.
An indefatigable temperament let her meet lots of people and travel all over Abkhazia, going to the remotest places. One winter in a nasty cold, we went to Odish to see some church. She was driving a UN jeep, I was lying in the back seat, as it was forbidden to take strangers, so I moved to the front seat when we went out of town and no one from the UN could see me.
On a deserted way she picked up two young soldiers walking to their frontier post, shivering from cold with automatic guns over their shoulders. Twenty minutes later we dropped them at the bar, where also young, a soldier waited for them being hungry for two days. When we drove further, I asked if she was not afraid to take into the car unknown armed men in an absolutely lonely place. She shrugged her shoulders, "Well, nothing happened" (as many foreigners, she omits another, not necessary in her opinion "not").
This time, Maurizia came to see how projects are developing, for which she had once found funding. To my surprise, there were projects much more than I thought. People greeted her with warmth and love, even strangers came up in the streets, domino players at the seaside asked her to sit with them, in the bookstore the shop assistant did not take money for Daur Nachkebia’s novel "Seaside of a Night", in the market Rosa Piliya gave her bananas and grapes for the interest to Abkhazia.
Maurizia again rushed across the country - to the Chkhuartal and Okum villages with a Vice Speaker of the Parliament Emma Gamisonia to see how our deputies work with their people; to Kodor Gorge with Roman Dbar, where they found and cleared the place in which the UN helicopter was shot down - Maurice planted poppies there; to Gal region, where the same hairdresser is still running; to Pitsunda to Lyudmyla Lolua with whom she keeps long-term friendship; and to the church of Lykhny at Easter with Batal Kobakhia and so on.
We spent unforgettable hours in a trout farm of Razhden Agrba. Once in tough times Mauricia could find money for developing the farm and Razhden did not forget it. We feasted in his house, the toastmaster was Roman Dbar, the air was shining of such refined compliments of the toasts - we said to each other so many high words, that the excess of love certainly dripped to the trout lapping in the waters.
For more than three weeks time Maurizia managed to do so much that her energy surprises. Before leaving, she acknowledged that much of the country changed for the better, but not all has been done yet. "You have to build an independent state, it is not as simple as you think" - she said, with her own unique accent.
Six days after her departure some gentlemen from Chkuartal village came to Emma Gamisonia in Sukhum, they found the London phone of Mauricia Jenkins and called her to express their warm feelings. Many years ago, Maurizia said: "I understand that when I come here being no longer as the wife of the Ambassador, people will not pay so much attention to me". - "Well, that's normal" - I replied.
Both of us were mistaken.