Even after four years at State Engineering University of Armenia Anahit Manukyan felt she needed additional training to become more marketable in her field. GTech was her solution. In 2011, she enrolled in the Mobile Development Department. She was even lucky enough to spend two months in Australia taking a training course at CountryNet Solutions IT Company. Upon her return to Armenia Anahit started working on her GTech diploma project, successfully defended it, and earned her Mobile Developer Certificate.
In May, Anahit together with GTech graduates Lusine Khachatryan, Anna Gabrielyan, Melanya Hovhannisyan, and current GTech students Samvel Pahlevanyan and Adam Madoyan, applied for a grant from the Enterprise Incubator Foundation to support the development of new solutions, product and service development in Gyumri. Their social networking project BooksPlus won and the team has since founded their own startup company in Gyumri called WeDoApps.
“My two years of study at GTech was one of the most rewarding periods of my life where I gained a lot of knowledge about my field of study. This was a life changing experience for me. I have had the opportunity to study in a challenging and ambitious environment. I even had a chance to experience working abroad but I’m happy to live and work in my native town and contribute to IT prosperity,” Anahit said.
In addition to the start up, Anahit is an iOS developer at Mobile Solutions in Gyumri. She also works remotely for CountryNet Solutions as a C++ and iOS developer, and teaches iOS technology at GTech.
July 3rd turned into a joyful day for the more than 30 kids of the FAR Children’s Center when Young Professionals Trip alumni came by for a visit. All were visiting Armenia and they decided to once again observe FAR’s projects firsthand. Center staff toured their special guests around the facility, who then spent several hours playing with the kids. The group brought balls, stuffed animals, stickers, board games and painting materials with them, which made the kids even happier to have visitors.
“Everyone was thrilled with the chance to see FAR’s work first hand!” said Martha Mensoian, the YPT alumnus who initiated the trip to the Children’s Center, following the visit. In fact, the group was so impressed that they decided to pool their money to make a donation toward the rehabilitation of the Center’s soccer and basketball courtyard. Their generous gift will make it possible to repave the grounds and replace the worn soccer nets and basketball hoop with brand new ones.
“One, two, three, four,” the children say in unison. “Five, six, seven, eight,” they continue in step before they join hands to form a circle.
“This is how we teach the kids the Echmiadzin national dance,” said Nelli Zakaryan, one recent afternoon.
It’s been three months since Nelli and Arpine Tanqamyan, both Mathevosian scholarship students, started coming to the FAR Children’s Center each week to voluntarily teach national dance to the kids at the Center. Both girls study finance at the Armenian State University of Economics thanks to the support they receive from the scholarship.
While it may be difficult for Nelli and Arpine to converse with many of the children who come from difficult backgrounds they are able to connect with them through dance. “I am happy because I am doing something good. I told my friends at university about it and even they were excited about it, so we don’t just teach the kids. We might even inspire others to do the same. It also makes me feel more responsible,” Nelli said.
Nelli and Arpine are not the only FAR scholarship students who devote their time and skills to the children of the Center. Mathevosian and Nishanian scholarship students also devote their free time to the Center. Armine Grigoryan teaches painting, while Silva Karapetyan and Nelli Ghardyan teach Latin dance.
10-year-old Armine Harutyunyan attends both Armenian and Latin dance classes. “I am very fond of dancing, but I definitely like the Armenian dances the most. I never miss any of the national dance classes,” she said. “I always dreamed of becoming a dancer.”
Gulamerian Scholarship student Anna Avetisyan may have many talents, but the two she most likes to focus on are poetry and reporting. In 2009, Anna published her first book of poems called Unanswered Love. She still writes poems on her own now, while she focuses on her future career in journalism.
“Journalism is the only profession when one can see the border between good and bad,” Anna said, adding. “I am an active person and journalism will allow me to discover myself.”
As a student she uses every chance to excel in her chosen career path. She has attended several trainings, and has even participated in human rights reporting initiatives. She sees herself working in television after graduation.
Anna applied for the Gulamerian Scholarship after her father, a veteran of the Karabakh War, died three years ago. Since then Anna’s sister got married and moved out. Anna still lives with her mother and she is very thankful for the scholarship, which makes it a little easier for them to make ends meet. “I applied for the scholarship during summer. The day I learned I was selected by FAR was a great day,” she said.
As she continues to write poems about love, nature, and the emotions and challenges of life, Anna also happily states that working toward a successful career in journalism is exactly where she wants to be.
Current and previous ANSEF grantees gathered recently at the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia (NASA) to learn more about opportunities for funding from various European Institutions. FAR partnered with NASA’s Department of International Science and Technology, on the event, which is part of FAR’s effort to be consistent with creating more opportunities for Armenian scientists.
FAR Education and Science Programs Coordinator Edik Karapetyan, along with the Head of International Science and Technology Programs Department at NASA Tigran Arzumanyan welcomed the participants and asked them to take every possibility to develop their work. Program coordinators presented on the opportunities, which included Erasmus+; Study and Research in Germany, a DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) program; and Overview of the Horizon 2020, which is an EU Framework Program for Research and Innovation.
ANSEF grantees showed interest and actively participated in discussion afterwards. “This advisory meeting was important in the sense that our scientists received full information about new sources of cooperation, as well as opportunities from various grant programs directly from the source,” Edik said.
Thirteen-year-old Karen Antonyan is able to walk, go to school and play with friends thanks to the attention, care and philanthropy of others. Karen lives in the village of Chinchin in the Tavush Region, and suffers from an illness, which affects his central nervous system. For the last six years he has lived with a cerebral shunt implanted between his brain and his stomach. Last year it clogged unexpectedly, which immediately put Karen’s life at risk. He was rushed to the Surb Astvatsamayr Medical Center in Yerevan where the doctors who performed emergency surgery found they had to replace the shunt completely.
Karen lives with his parents, two siblings, and his disabled aunt. Since the family’s sole income is the monthly assistance they receive from the government, the $1,200 needed to pay for the new shunt was completely unaffordable. Yet, because the Antonyans are one of the 263 families who benefit from the BCPP’s Family Stabilization component , their social worker Ani Papyan was the first to sound the alarm on the situation. Thanks to her efforts, part of the family’s social assistance package from BCPP was used to cover a portion of the cost of the shunt. This assistance was a huge relief for the family who were able to cover the rest after asking family and friends for additional support.
Unfortunately, post-surgery complications worsened Karen’s situation. Once again, the shunt needed to be replaced, only this time with one that cost $1,700. Once again, thanks to the BCPP’s flexible approach, the Antonyan received their total social package amount for 2015 in a lump sum. With that they were able to pre-pay for the second shunt, and Karen was able to undergo surgery again. The municipality of Chinchin also helped out with some additional financial assistance.
The entire experience brought on unbelievable stress for this poor family; Karen’s mother Tsovinar Khachatryan’s health even began to deteriorate, too. BCPP and Chinchin’s support were able to inspire hope, as well as keep Karen alive.
“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.”