13th April 2001 at 01:00
(Photograph) - A day in the life of the House of the Future, Tbilisi, Georgia

Following the civil war in 1998, the streets of Tbilisi were filled with homeless children - orphans, refugees or those abandoned by families too poor to feed them. Around 2,500 children, many with diseases or psychological or sexual problems, live on the streets, surviving by begging or selling flowers, cigarettes and newspapers or, all too often, themselves.

This government-funded hostel looks after 50 children. Despite a small budget, for food only, the staff pride themselves on offering the love and warmth children need to "become normal people". Staff joke that to provide essentials such as clothing, soap, pencils and paper, they too have to go begging.

Most of the children attend school, and learn skills such as sewing, knitting, leathework and photography. Musicians and artists from Britain also work with the children as part of a War Child creative arts therapy project.

Although the hostel offers a stable environment, turnover is high, with children often pressured into returning to the streets by pimps or parents Words by Susan NickallsSnaps by Colin Dickson

On the log run: open fires are the only form of heating

War Child's Peter Vilk gives a few drumming tips

Children create imaginary magic islands in a War Child workshop

Hanging out: Lana (left) and Nino

Children and a teacher huddle around a brazier for warmth

Freshening up: an early morning wash in the open air

A bed is a relative luxury. On the streets children sleep on top of each other to keep warm

Levan looks forward to dinner, but dreams of sweets

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