“Pro Mestia, Georgia” is a co-operative work on a private basis existing since 1998. The team consists of the architects Markus Röthlisberger (Bern) and Merab Gujejiani (Tbilissi) as well as Elsbeth Röthlisberger and doctor Stephan Grubenmann from Bern.
"Pro Mestia Georgia" ist a society in the sense of art. 60ff CCR. It's exempt from taxes, i.e. donations ca be written off against tax.
Their objective is to improve living conditions and basic medical treatment in the barely developed mountain valley of Svanetia, in the Great Caucasus. The main items are:
Architectural reconstruction and transfer of know-how in civil-engineering
Support of basic medical supply
Improvements in agriculture and forestry and rural infrastructure
Projects for women and improvement of the situation of children and teenagers
Education and further training and development of jobs
The activities are focused at present on the village of Cholashi nearby Mestia, which is almost completely on its own due to insufficient road conditions. Embedded in a marvellous and untouched landscape, the social structures are marked by agricultural traditions.
The area is famous among mountaineers for its challenging mountains with peaks ranging from four to five thousand meters above sea level. During the era of the Soviet Union, tourism had been thriving, but because of the degeneration of the infrastructure it has come to a total breakdown. Thus, it is purposeful to promote a softer kind of tourism that supports the protection of the natural environment and is adapted to the living conditions of the area.
The staffers work in an honorary capacity, the architect in Tbilissi receives repayment of expenses. The financial means originate from private sponsors, Swiss fondations and the support of institutions like the Swiss Agency for Department for Development and Cooperation (SDC).