[FAR Children’s Center]: A Gift of Salvation and Transformation

  • July 3, 2015 10:27 am

The Gabrielyan family was gifted a cow through the generosity of California residents Laoura Avakiants and Richard Abrams.

“I could hardly understand what Arusyak was saying over the phone, she was so excited,” said FAR Children’s Center Social Worker Rima Harutyunyan after receiving an unexpected call. “The only things I could make out were words like ‘cow,’ ‘baby’ and ‘birth.’”

Arusyak Gabrielyan had called Rima from her home in Artavaz Village, located in the mountains of Armenia’s Kotayq region. Many Armenian families from Azerbaijan fled to Artavaz during the Nagorno Karabakh War. Despite its strong community, Artavaz is a place with extremely limited resources and few job opportunities.

Arusyak’s family of four includes her husband Gagik and their two children Ruzanna, 15, and Dianna, 13. Before the Center’s social workers began to work with the family they could hardly earn enough money to feed themselves each day. Nevertheless, poverty was no reason for them to give up; they continued to fight and they even helped others in the village not to lose hope.

Through the Center’s assistance, Gagik’s family was gifted a cow by California donors Laoura Avakiants and her husband Richard Abrams. On their most recent visit to the family this spring, Rima and other social workers from the Center were able to see the cow’s newborn calf.

“It is a very nice and cute baby,” Arusyak said with the same enthusiasm as she had in her phone call. Now, her kids can eat nutritious food including milk, cheese and yogurt on a regular basis.

“The children can have breakfast before going to school,” she said. Arusyak had become used to the sting of guilt she experienced each time she sent her kids to school without breakfast. Now, she tears up when she talks about what this gift has done for her family.

Gagik is equally excited and proud of the birth of the calf. “In the long-term, we are planning to do cattle breeding as a business, and we can also help others in this village.”

To express their gratitude to Laoura and Richard the two children went to Kecharis Church in the nearby town of Tsakhadzor to pray for their wellbeing. Arusyak’s family are not the only ones who are excited; the entire village of Artavaz is eager to welcome Laura and her family so they can thank them in person.

“We thought that this place had been forgotten by everyone, even by God,” said Arusyak’s neighbor Karine during the staff visit. “It is truly incredible how this nice couple who are living on the other side of the world paid attention to our village and to the people who live here.”

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[Ayo!] Ayo!’s Photo Sale to Support Some of Armenia’s Most Vulnerable Extended Until July 10th!

  • July 1, 2015 10:27 am



Photo Sale Now Extended to July 10th. Buy Your Photo Today.

Ayo! has extended the photo sale it launched two weeks ago to give more people the chance to support some of Armenia’s most vulnerable populations through the healing power of art. A selection of 12 beautiful photos taken by at-risk kids from the FAR Children’s Center are now available for purchase until July 10th.

Changing Landscapes has a unique focus of using art, specifically nature photography, as a restorative and healing tool for different age groups and environments. Through this project, the Center’s kids will have the chance to learn and experiment with photography during chaperoned day trips to local parks and nature sites, ultimately enabling them to benefit from creative expression. Their best photos will be gifted to Armenian hospitals where they will be displayed, providing an additional source of comfort, hope and calm to patients, and a sense of community contribution for the children.

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The Center’s kids took the photos chosen for the sale (also displayed in the slideshow below) during a trial run of the project held last summer. They are available for purchase until July 10th. Each framed photo is $75, which includes USPS standard shipping. Help Ayo! to make this project happen. Support creative expression and healing and place your order today.

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[VOAH]: FAR Students Bring Joy to VOAH Residents

  • June 30, 2015 10:50 am

Students and VOAH residents spent a happy day.

We couldn’t wish for anything better at Vanadzor Old Age Home (VOAH) than happy and joyful residents. Recently, more than 50 of FAR’s scholarship students visited VOAH to help with a major spring clean of the building and its surrounding grounds. Their May 9th visit was also chosen for a purpose since it marks three holidays: the liberation of Shushi during the Nagorno Karabakh War; Karabakh Defense Army Day; and Victory Day of the Soviet armed forces in the World War II. The young visitors wanted to make the day as colorful and as fun as possible for “grandpas” and “grandmas” of VOAH.

First thing first, students cleaned and fixed everything in the residents’ rooms. They then tended to the grounds, trimming the brush, raking the debris and planting flowers. Then for fun they cut and styled the hair of willing residents, which was followed by singing and dancing.

The students’ visit made May 9th a double celebration for 91-year-old Zhorik Avetisyan who started serving in the Soviet Army at 17. With the Tamanskaya Division he went from Kerch to Berlin, and witnessed the victory of his army during the World War II. Twelve years ago Zhorik, who never had any family of his own, found a family at VOAH.

“It was so exciting to meet “grandpa” Zhorik, and when I did so my feelings were mixed; I remember feeling pain, sympathy and excitement all at the same time. When I was giving him second piece of cake he refused, saying others then might have less if he had two. It was only after I reassured him that everybody had already had enough that he took it,” said Ani Qalashyan, a Mathevosian scholarship student.

VOAH has also given Karabakh war veterans a home. One of them is 52-year-old Arsen Ohanyan, a man who has had a difficult life. After growing up in an orphanage, Ohanyan was a solider in Afghanistan from 1981 to 1983. In 1991, he left Russia for the frontlines of the Karabakh conflict. He fought for three years until he was seriously wounded and was unable to return.

At the end of the day, VOAH residents were treated to a concert by students from the Yerevan State Conservatory’s Traditional Instrument Department. “Our students made the day a wonderful holiday for the grandmas and grandpas of VOAH. The folk songs the conservatory students performed awakened vivid memories. Everybody was excited. We felt that we were surrounded by boundless joy,” said FAR Education and Science Programs Manager Edik Karapetyan.

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[FAR Schools]: FAR Support Opens New Horizons for Young Musicians of Armenia

  • June 26, 2015 10:31 am

Fourteen-year-old Katarina Muradyan has loved singing since she was 8.

Fourteen-year-old Katarina Muradyan has loved singing since she was 8. Back then she would use her comb as a microphone and perform in front of the mirror, imagining herself as a famous pop star. Her parents decided to support their daughter’s passion and sent her to the Octet Music School in Gyumri.

Katarina was among the students who would diligently study in cramped aluminum trailers – a temporary fix, which became permanent following the 1988 earthquake – until a group of generous musicians and donors helped to build a new two-story building for her and her classmates in 2013.

The best thing students like Katarina can do to pay back the generosity of such donors is to study hard and perform well. She is trying hard to do just that. Recently, Katarina participated in the 7th Annual Veratsnund (Renaissance) International Music Festival and won first place in a singing competition.

“It was my third try at the festival. The first time I only got a certificate of participation but last year and this year I won first prize. The jury was so impressed by my performance and I was feeling so proud that I even impressed myself,” Katarina said.

She performs songs of both classical and popular genres, and after this year’s victory at the festival she was invited to Yerevan for training in the famous orchestra of Ara Yerznkyan.

“I want to become a singer. I hope these trainings will help me fulfil my dreams. I want to study in a conservatory and study the arts,” Katarina said.

Katarina was among 11 students from the Octet Music school who were participating in the Veratsnund Festival. Two of them won prizes and 9 received diplomas and thank-you certificates.

“Students are always so excited for the festival. Participation helps them to learn the culture of contests, to get acquainted with the younger generation of other nations, and to exchange knowledge and experience with them,” said Octet Director Harutyun Asatryan. “Kids also learn how to perform for the larger audiences and how to overcome the stress and fear of big halls. I wish the festival would last for years since it helps many students to find their way in the sphere of music and art.”

Octet Music School participates in the Veratsnund Festival through financial support from FAR. All of us at FAR wish for Octet students to continue to take home awards from this, and many more of the contests in which they take part.

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[FAR GTech]: “What, Where, When” Competition a Showcase for Armenian Intellectual Strength

  • June 24, 2015 10:12 am

GTech Executive Director Amalya Yeghoyan distributes the awards to  competition winners.

Even after the crowds left Yerevan and the news shifted away from the global commemorations of the surrounding April 24th, Gyumri Information technologies Center – GTech and GTech Solutions continued to keep Gyumri’s attention on the genocide centennial in their own unique way.

About two weeks ago, students and staff organized the What, Where, When competition at the Gyumri Jazz Club, with the purpose of demonstrating the unbreakable intellectual strength of the Armenian people. Eight teams from Gyumri-based businesses and institutions, including GTech, GTech Solutions, D-Link Home Securities, Instigate, the National Polytechnic University of Armenia’s Gyumri Branch, as well as web and mobile solutions companies Develandoo and Constant, and the animation company Vitrage, participated in the test of IT-related trivia.

Vitrage won, with second and third places respectively going to National Polytechnic and Develandoo. All the participating teams were awarded certificates by GTech for an effort that showed that even a century after near annihilation, Armenian intellect and drive will prevail.

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[Child Protection]: FAR Children’s Center Plays Key Role in Strengthening Social Support, Juvenile Crime Prevention

  • June 22, 2015 10:27 am

The discussion also served as an opportunity to introduce the OSCE’s new

A round table discussion organized by the FAR Children’s Center, Police Armenia and the OSCE Office in Yerevan held in mid-May, brought together stakeholders with the goal of launching a new project to further develop the OSCE’s juvenile crime prevention strategy.

The round table also served as an opportunity to introduce the OSCE’s newly developed Guide on Social Services for Children and their Families. The guide, which was produced by the Center with support from the OSCE  Office in Yerevan, not only raises awareness of existing services, but also assists in the coordination of services. It is based on mapping conducted of all social services in the country and includes information on 236 public organizations, 23 foundations, 3 associations, and 10 services provided by 8 church units.

The round table brought together representatives from various state and non-state institutions including police forces, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, National Assembly Standing Committee on Protection of Human Rights and Public Affairs, and Child Protection Units of different municipalities, regional administrations and civil society, which deal with juvenile crimes. Representatives of Child Protection Network organizations were in attendance, as well.

“We very much hope that this initiative will be useful and instrumental for child protection and welfare specialists in joining and doubling their efforts in strengthening the protection of the rights and best interests of a child, which forms an essential part of the OSCE Human Dimension Commitments acknowledged by the OSCE participating States,” said Lilian Salaru, Acting Head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan. He also added that close partnerships with families, schools and communities, will be vital to develop a juvenile crime prevention strategy in Armenia consistent with child-friendly justice standards.

“We would like to call on our partners and all stakeholders to cooperate in the framework of the new project, which strives to assist the efforts of the state bodies aimed at development of juvenile crime prevention,” said the Center’s Executive Director Dr. Mira Antonyan.

The round table follows a series of forums that were held last year in different regions of Armenia by the Center to ensure better coordination and closer cooperation among different state and non-state agencies dealing with juvenile offenders.

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[FAR ANSEF]: ANSEF Researchers Promote Their Research Amongst Members of Armenia’s Science Community

  • June 19, 2015 10:27 am

Club members, scientists of different research and scientific institutions, who are interested in the topic of discussion were present at the meeting.

Throughout the course of the decade since FAR launched its Armenian National Science and Education Fund (ANSEF) grant program, it has always tried to create new opportunities for researchers, both current and alumni, to advance their work. A recent partnership between FAR and Technology & Science Dynamics IT company’s New Technology Education Fund (NTEF) is one such opportunity. Two of FAR’s previous ANSEF grantees recently presented their research at NTEF’s Mergelyan Club, where weekly discussions among members of the scientific community aim to uncover new and promising business ideas.

Based at the Armbiotechnology Scientific and Production Center, Sona Avetisyan, 36, spoke about her research synthesizing the melanin found in skin as a way to increases crop yields. Hovakim Zaqaryan, 28, from the Molecular Biology Institute at the National Academy of Sciences, talked about his work on fighting African Swine Fever. Scientists in the audience loved their presentations and many expressed an interest in helping Sona and Hovakim to further apply the results of their research. Both appreciated the opportunity to promote their work.

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