[Ayo!]: Yes! We Want to Protect our Children!

  • July 25, 2014 12:02 pm

The square in front of the Moscow Cinema in Armenia hosted the coolest and most fun fundraising event of the year on July 19.
The Ayo! team and volunteers featured their Protective Walls project to build protective walls around the kindergarten and the school of the Aygepar Village in the northeastern region of Armenia.
Whether people were in the square to see the presentations of the Golden Apricot Film Festival, to take in some open air tunes of a local big band, or just to sit by the fountain and enjoy a cool evening, scores of them also included a visit to the Ayo! crew in their leisurely evening. Numerous passers-by stopped to become part of this important initiative for Aygepar and in a mere two hours, these intrepid crowdfunders had collectively tossed in an impressive sum of 137,660AMD.

Aygepar has 648 residents, of which 54 are students that attend the village school, and 25 that attend the kindergarten. The village is in close proximity to the Azeri border – some houses are only 100 meters away from the official borderline. The kindergarten and school buildings are 700 meters away.

Ceasefire violations have become part of the everyday life for the villagers of Aygepar. The sniper fire from the Azeri side is normally aimed at civilian buildings, the school, and kindergarten.

The school has been damaged several times already, with some bullets even penetrating through the windows and posing a fatal risk to the schoolchildren. The playground outside of the school is extremely dangerous because of the regular shooting occurrences.

The Aygepar kindergarten has not been spared either and the teachers are forced to avoid taking the children to their playroom or to the playground.

By initiating the Protective Walls project, Ayo! wants to guarantee a safer environment for the children as soon as possible.

Every bit of help counts and reduces the number of days these children must risk their lives for their basic education. Say “Ayo!” to safe schools here.

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[FAR Soup Kitchens]: Everyday Support for the Vulnerable

  • July 23, 2014 1:19 pm

Roza Gabrielyan's smile has carried her through all  of life's difficulties82-year-old Roza Gabrielyan has visited FAR’s Atinizian Senior Center in Gyumri every day for the past 14 years. The difficulties in her life have not broken her energetic personality and smile. She responds to today’s troubles by reminding us about her childhood in the 1940s – when finding a handful of wheat was a great joy.

“We come here, see people, chat, eat delicious meals. This is how we pass our days. I tell many people to hang in there. We get meals here every day – different kinds of meals. When I was a child, there wasn’t even one grain of wheat, but we survived and got to this day,” says Mrs. Roza.

She was 10 years old when was taken to an orphanage in Vayk following her parents’ untimely passing.

“We were in such difficult conditions that orphanage seemed to be heaven to us since we could eat normal food three times a day,” the elderly lady says with a grateful smile that brought her through a difficult life from the Vayk orphanage to work in a textile factory in Gyumri.

Roza spent her entire life in that factory – working there for 43 years. Only the devastating Gyumri earthquake of 1988 stopped her and her hard-working colleagues. The population of Gyumri, the second largest city of Armenia, still struggles with poverty as it tries to overcome the damages of one of the most awful disasters in Armenian history.

150 elderly people in vulnerable situations are fighting poverty alongside FAR’s support as they visit the Gyumri Senior Center. They not only receive meals, but also communicate and share every small joy with each other.

“Since my only daughter got married, I’ve been living alone. So, I come here to find friends. And I won’t lie to my God – I am doing well with my $100 pension. There are so many people who are simply not able to pay for, even, bread. Many can’t find employment…  FAR really is a huge help to us. Thank you so much,” Mrs. Roza says.

Every day more than 800 socially vulnerable individuals receive nutritious meals at FAR’s soup kitchens in Gyumri, Berd, Nor Hajn, Byureghavan, and Yerevan.

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[Economic Development]: New Tractor Will Revitalize City of Berd

  • July 22, 2014 9:32 am

A new tractor to bring new life to the city of Berd

This summer brings new hope for rehabilitation to the Tavush region’s Berd city. The hope comes in the form of a brand new model of a tractor that has been purchased through FAR’s Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program” (BCPP), Care International in Caucasus, and the Berd municipality.

This modern-day tractor – the first of its kind in Armenia — will allow the residents of Berd to restore more than 300 hectares of land that have been abandoned for ten years.

Berd Mayor Harutyun Manucharyan is deeply thankful for the new tractor. He is full of energy to work on more than 40 hectares of uncultivated land this coming fall with the new Russian Agromash 75 TG modified caterpillar tractor.

“We will see the first results this fall,” says Mayor Manucharyan. “My goal is to cultivate and return 50-60 hectares of currently abandoned land to residents every year.”

“But we have a bigger goal than just having a tractor… When land in the city is cultivated, it becomes the property of citizens and makes it more difficult for them to leave it,” Mr. Manucharyan adds.

FAR is overjoyed that its one year of efforts to obtain the tractor for Berd has finally succeeded.

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[FAR Schools]: Happy to Create, Play, and Share

  • July 21, 2014 10:47 am

Students of the newly rebuilt Gyumri Octet (Azad Shishian) Music School don’t even remember the temporary aluminum trailers where they had to have their classes after the devastating earthquake of 1988.

After the Octet school collapsed in the tragedy, classes took place in cramped “domiks.” Now, however, the marvelous two-story building is fully equipped to further develop the talented young musicians’ education. Among its new amenities are bright classrooms, a library, a concert hall, and an outdoor amphitheater.

Gyumri’s musical youth is happy to create, play, and share the music that they love and live with.

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[Science and Education]: Bringing New Opportunities to Future Students

  • July 18, 2014 1:20 pm

Preparing for university admissions exams in Yerevan

11,525 prospective students will be applying to higher educational institutions of Armenia for the 2014-2015 academic year. As such, FAR is expecting to receive numerous applications from students to seize the opportunities offered by the FAR Education Programs.

Future students will have a chance to apply to six different scholarship programs: Mathevosian Scholarship, Jerar Nishanian Foundation Scholarship, Gulamerian Foundation Scholarship, Ester Ajemian Scholarship, Armine and Garabed Zambak Scholarship, and the Mardigian Scholarship.

Since 1997, FAR has provided scholarships to students all over Armenia. At the moment, more than 300 students receive our benefactors’ generous support.

You can read more about our scholarship students’ experience with FAR in our feature stories below:

Click here to meet Marlena Manukyan  who is studying International Relations at Yerevan State University with the help of the Gulamerian Scholarship Program.

Click here to meet Anahit Mnatsakanyan who is studying political science at Yerevan State University with the help of the Zambak Scholarship Program.

 Click here to meet Various Mathevosian Scholars.


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[Healthcare]: FAR Friend Dr. John Bilezikian Supports Public Health in Armenia

  • July 17, 2014 11:57 am

Dr. Bilezikian in the Gyumri Medical CenterIn late May 2014, the Gyumri Medical Center finally had the opportunity to host Dr. John Bilezikian, world-renowned endocrinologist and specialist on osteoporosis from Columbia University.

During his visit Dr. Bilezikian was interested to see how one of the six bone densitometer medical scanning devices – that he had donated to Armenia’s medical hospitals – is being used.

Since 2006, the six densitometers have been donated to the Research Center of Maternal and Child Health Protection, «Muratsan» University Hospital, the Armenian American Wellness Center, Erebouni Medical Center, Stepanakert Medical Center and Gyumri Medical Center.

Dr. Bilezikian not only reviewed the scanner which allows to diagnose bone density but also gave a short coaching on how to better use the medical device.

Until recently, osteoporosis was a widely spread public health issue in Armenia, partly due to the lack of available information about it. Dr. Bilezikian realized this informational problem and made efforts to overcome it. With his help, Armenia is doing much better with the osteoporosis currently.  Since osteoporosis treatment requires an evidence-based approach, densitometers allow specialists to precisely diagnose osteoporosis. In turn, the diagnosis allows for effective prevention and treatment of the disease.

In turn, the Gyumri Medical Center has named the Bone densitometer observation cabinet after Dr. John Bilezikian. FAR wholeheartedly congratulates the honored doctor for this honest recognition.

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[Child Protection]: Do You Have a Dream?

  • July 15, 2014 9:47 am

The FAR Children’s Center is the only institution in Armenia that performs crisis intervention and rehabilitation and provides children and their families access to a shelter, counseling, outreach services, healthcare, and legal assistance.

24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Center is open to all vulnerable children in Armenia and makes great efforts to make their lives brighter and safer.

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