Young orphan living in Glasgow could be at risk if deported

A 10-year-old asylum seeker would be put in grave danger if he is deported back to the country of his birth, it has been claimed.

Ketino Baikhadze said she feared her orphaned grandson, Giorgi, would be killed by people who previously threatened his life in Georgia, a former Soviet republic.

The 59-year-old revealed that her daughter Sopio fled to Scotland seven-years-ago after her late husband became involved with “gangsters” whom he owed money to.

Ketino Baikhadze
Ketino Baikhadze and her grandson, Giorgi,

Mrs Baikhadze is now her grandson’s legal guardian following the death of his 35-year-old mother in February after a long illness.

She has now dedicated her life to Giorgi, who has lived in Glasgow since he was three, and hopes he will continue to grow up a “Scottish boy”.

Funeral

The pair are waiting for an initial decision on their applications for asylum – a case that Paul Sweeney, MP for Glasgow North-East, has taken up on their behalf.

Sopio Baikhadze’s funeral,attended by strangers and community representatives, was held in Springburn Parish Church in Glasgow on February 9.

It was led by minister, Rev Brian Casey, and Father John McGrath, parish priest of St Aloysius Church in Springburn.

They incorporated Georgian traditions into the service so Giorgi could properly say goodbye to his mother, known as Sophie, whose body was repatriated to Georgia for burial.

Sopio Baikhadze
Mother and son - Sopio and Giorgi.

Mrs Baikhadze, who is being supported by Mr Casey, said: “Sophie was an intelligent girl but had a hard life in Georgia.

“She came to Scotland to escape gangsters that her husband owed money to who threatened Giorgi’s life.

“She hoped to build a good life in Glasgow but she fell ill and after many months died at her home.”

Broken heart

Mrs Baikhadze said her daughter was a “very kind and warm person” who adored her son.

“She was a perfect daughter who was my everything,” she added.

“But she has gone, my heart is broken and I cannot leave Giorgi alone.

“He is such a good boy and I am living for him now.

”He has no mother and no father and the best thing for him is to stay in Glasgow.”

Mrs Baikhadze said her grandson was very happy in the city.

“Giorgi doesn’t understand a word of the Georgian language,” she added.

“He only speaks English and has grown up in Glasgow where all his friends are so it would be very hard for him to go there.

“Sometimes I use Georgian words and I ask him ‘why don’t you understand?’ and he says ‘because I am Scottish.”

Rev Brian Casey
Ketino Baikhadze and Rev Brian Casey, who is supporting the family.

Mrs Baikhadze, who has lived illegally in Glasgow for 14 years, said she always intended to return to Georgia.

But she decided to stay after her daughter, who was a freelance translator and spoke four languages, fell ill.

Mrs Baikhadze was a primary school teacher in Georgia but made a living in Glasgow cleaning houses.

In a direct appeal to the UK Government and cross-party politicians, she said: “Please help Sophie’s family.

“Her son is a good boy and she just wanted to give him as normal a life as possible in Scotland.”

Sopio Baikhadze was awaiting the outcome of an appeal for asylum when she died.

Happy wee boy

Mr Casey said the family’s story had touched many people in Springburn and a tree in her memory, and others who have lost loved ones, has been planted in the church grounds.

“It warmed my heart to see the love, support and care in this community for a family who came from abroad and were accepted with open arms,” he added.

“I am a chaplain at Giorgi school and to finally hear his backstory, four years after meeting him, is heartbreaking.

“He is such a happy wee boy and I could not in good conscience stand by and watch him being sent back to a country that he doesn’t know and where his life is potentially in danger.

“Giorgi is, by all intents and purposes, a Scottish boy and I would appeal to the Home Office to examine this case with love and compassion”.

Ketino Baikhadze
Ketino Baikhadze and her daughter, Sopio.

Solicitor Andrew Bradley of Peter G Farrell Solicitors is representing Mrs Baikhadze’s interests.

He said: "It is difficult to imagine what Giorgi is going through.

“For many people the grieving process takes months or years.

“While trying to recover from the loss of his mum his future hangs in the balance.

“He faces the possibility of being taken away from his home and friends in Scotland to what must now be a strange country.

“If the Home Office saw fit to make a decision in his favour, it would no doubt be a huge weight off his mind.”

Church of Scotland congregations the length and breadth of the country are actively working to support asylum seekers and refugees.

The Kirk continues to speak out against the scandal of funeral poverty and is campaigning for an end to the postcode lottery of burial and cremation charges and the introduction of state assistance for those particularly in need.