March 10, 2012

Mariam Makhniashvili - the Death of an Immigrant

Mariam Makhniashvili, age 17, disappeared on September 14, 2009. 

Police confirmed that a body found on March 8, 2012, in a wooded area of Toronto, was that of Mariam. An autopsy has revealed that the cause of death was a fall from a significant height. There is no indication of an abduction or any other sort of foul play. It is believed that Mariam committed suicide.

Her parents had emigrated from the Republic of Georgia in 2003 and moved to California, leaving Mariam and her younger brother, George, to be raised by relatives. While in California, the father, Vakhtang Makhniashvili, had been accused of lewd sexual conduct in front of a daycare centre, but was acquitted of the crime by a California court. 

The family reunited in the summer of 2009, in Toronto, where they had next emigrated. 

Mariam was only at her new high school for 5 days before she disappeared. The teenager's disappearance prompted a 6,000-home canvass of the neighbourhood where she lived and a massive police search Canada wide and beyond, but other than several false sightings over the years, there had been no concrete developments.

The father, Vakhtang, is now serving a six-year prison sentence for attacking several people with a knife, including a neighbour he mistakenly believed was involved in his daughter's disappearance.

Angels of God,
pray for Mariam
Mariam is described by people who noticed her during her 5 days at her new high school as being shy and having trouble with the English language. She is also described as quiet, reclusive, and without friends in Canada. 

Her family has stated that she was not experiencing culture shock (how could she not?), was not depressed or stressed out and was acting normally.

One wonders on what basis this assumption is made - by a family that moved from the Republic of Georgia, to the U.S.A. and then to Canada in the space of 6 years? And by a family in which the father had a volatile temper and had been involved in a sex abuse case? Stabbing neighbours is not an accepted practice in Canada and is not an accepted practice in the Republic of Georgia either. 

Only God knows what was going on in that home. 

However, this very sad incident reinforces the need for help and support at numerous levels for new immigrants to any country. They are often lost and confused and frustrated by their lack of language skills and the lack of communication and connection to others, especially if they are shy and introverted to begin with. 

Many students at the high school that Mariam attended, wept when it was announced that her body had been found. It would have been better if they had approached Mariam, while she was attending school to welcome her to Canada. We are all guilty of being self-absorbed and aloof with strangers. But sometimes it is just better to step up to the plate. 

What does it cost to smile and to say "Hello. How are you doing?"

Pray for all who commit suicide out of despair. 

Let us pray to God the Father, Jesus, all of the saints and all of the angels that Mariam Makhniashvili is in heaven. Let us pray that she is at peace and is with God. Amen

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