[FAR Children’s Center]: Helping Children Out of Poverty

  • April 11, 2013 1:51 pm

The Fund for Armenian Relief is starting a 5-year child-poverty prevention program in the Ararat region of Armenia. The program aims to identify children from families at risk and provide them with comprehensive support packages through early intervention. Long-term consistent work with the beneficiaries aims to consolidate the program’s impact.

Based on specific criteria used to determine a family’s economic standing, 25 families will be selected to benefit from the program.

Services included in the support packages will range from legal consultation and assistance, socio-psychological, material and humanitarian assistance, as well as development of parental skills through a variety of methods, including workshops and trainings.

At the moment, the FAR Children’s Center, which is the direct implementer of the program, has already completed an initial assessment of the target group. After studying the social conditions of 120 families in Ararat and another 120 in Masis, from which it has identified 100 who are in extreme need of the planned assistance.

A peer review committee, made up of FAR staff, local administration representatives, the Department of Social Issues, and the Armenian Church, will identify the 50 families (25 in each community) that will benefit from the program. Immediately after this step, social workers, in consultation with the peer review committee, will devise individual plans for each family, so that support packages may be delivered starting in May 2013.

The implementation of this program in itself is the best gift to the lucid memory of its supporter Robert Samuel Ajemian – scientist and teacher, member of the AGBU and the Armenian Assembly – a  FAR benefactor who passed away in March 2009. In our implementation efforts of this program for the children of Ararat, we look up to his humanitarian lifestyle and his care for our compatriots.

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[FAR Children’s Center]: A Different World

  • March 27, 2013 8:28 am


The Toufayan Media Lab at the FAR Children’s Center serves as a place where children, including beneficiaries of other FAR programs, and Center staff engage in various trainings, discussions, and exchange experience on topics related to the IT sphere. Last year, FAR Young Professionals Trip participant Alexander Jahani led a session focusing on various applications for photo-editing on Mac. Staff members and volunteers, including Zambak Scholarship beneficiary Gohar Vardanyan, have since been sharing the skills/knowledge gained from Alexander with children.

Now, Nver Kirakosyan, an 18-year-old volunteer and photography enthusiast, leads similar sessions on different aspects of photography for Children’s Center beneficiaries. Nver, a political science student at the Yerevan State University, has been deeply affected by a terrible car accident in 2006 which took his mother’s life and his father’s health. Following the life-shattering tragedy, he found himself in a different world – one that made him grow into a guardian and protector, himself. Nver came to understand those who are left without parental care and felt eager to lend them a helping hand.

“Even if I manage to help one child, I will be very happy, because I know what it is to be left in a difficult situation and not to fall into despair,” says Never.

Nver’s interaction with the children consists of more than just answering questions during class or providing ad hoc help. It has grown into an ongoing relationship of learning and dialogue. Nver has become a mentor for the children.

“One of my students at the Media Lab is a young man who attends my classes instead of returning to a dangerous life in the streets where he could be betrayed and abandoned by his peers. I’m trying to be his big brother and helping him grasp the art of photography, with which I hope he can make a living one day.”

Incidentally, “Nver” in Armenian means “gift,” which is exactly what Nver has become for the young souls seeking solace at the Children’s Center. According to him, the feeling is mutual: “I find volunteering to be very rewarding. Every day I spend at the Media Lab, I enjoy discovering an imaginative world that is very different from the realities of the adult life.”

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[FAR Children’s Center]: Creating a Safe Haven for Periled Children

  • March 6, 2013 8:56 am

FAR Children’s Center harbors the growing dreams of many children who have been left without parental care for a variety of reasons. Many of those children were found wandering alone in a cruel, pragmatic society. They were then directed to the Center, where they are becoming empowered to overcome the psychological barriers of reintegrating into a family setting.

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[FAR Children’s Center]: Moments before the Group Song Rehearsal

  • February 21, 2013 11:12 am

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[FAR Children’s Center]: In the Footsteps of Leaders

  • February 15, 2013 9:10 am

Gohar Vardanyan is a first-year MA student in the Department of Political Science of the Yerevan State University’s Faculty of International Relations. She is also a second-year BA student of Law attending evening classes.

Gohar is able to keep up with such ambitious studies through the support of the Armine and Garabed Zambak Scholarship, which helps young Armenian become strong and dedicated future leaders in politics, international relations, and public administration. It also aims to develop the culture of philanthropy in Armenia by encouraging recipients to give back, though Gohar had been a volunteer long before she became a recipient of the Zambak Scholarship. To date, she has volunteered for a number of NGOs, including the Red Cross International, and is particularly interested in working with children.

Last summer, Gohar learned the basics of photography from Young Professionals Trip participant Alex Jahani at the FAR Children’s Center Media Lab. Now she is passing on her new skills to the beneficiaries of the Children’s Center during weekly photography classes.

Gohar is passionate about involving the kids in photography, which is both enjoyable and creative for them. Among the group of youngsters who participate in weekly trainings with her are two teenage boys: Karen and Levon. They don’t talk much, but they clearly appreciate doing something that deviates from the routine of their everyday lives. This week, for example, they explored the visuals at the Lovers’ Park in Yerevan, which is one of the different locations that Gohar chooses to photograph each week.

“I don’t like keeping good things to myself. If I know something well or I have a skill or experience, I am more than willing to pass those down the ladder for those who are learning,” says Gohar. She then recalls her unfinished leadership studies at the School for Young Leaders in Yerevan that she began in 2012 and never had the opportunity to complete. Perhaps what she does at the Children’s Center is a continuation of establishing personal leadership. Through every photography lesson, she leaves the footsteps of the leader that she once strove to become.

When asked why she decided to volunteer for FAR, Gohar simply answers, “It is important for me to take part in FAR’s benevolent work.” Her credo is to “try to be more kind-hearted,” which sounds like a gentle plea for more citizens to join the network of volunteering.

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[FAR Children’s Center]: The Art Therapy Studio

  • January 31, 2013 1:34 pm

These are the fruits of children’s creativity, poured out at the Art Studio of FAR Children’s Center:

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[FAR Children’s Center]: Young Boy Finally in Safe Hands

  • January 24, 2013 8:31 am

When his mother was imprisoned for trading illegal substances, nine-year-old Tigran Papikyan was left without parental care. The one adult assigned to take care of him, his grandfather, had an alcohol addiction. So, Tigran found himself in a boarding school in Yerevan.

Unfortunately, the Yerevan Childcare and Boarding Institution N1 was not safe for Tigran, either. He recalls one of his teachers, Miss Lilit, often beating him for any possible reason she could find. After yet another abusive episode from Lilit, Tigran ran away from the boarding school. He made it all the way home on foot, but there was no one there to let him in. He spent that night in a metro station.

The metro station had long felt like a second home for the boy, who had previously spent many hours in the underground shops and befriended many of the shopkeepers. They had always treated him kindly, so he naturally ran to them for refuge. This time, however, these friends reached out to child protection services at the Armenian Ombudsman’s Office and other entities. Eventually, when the police became involved, they guided Tigran safety at the FAR Children’s Center, where staff had already received reports about the case from both the Save the Children organization and the Ministry of Social Affairs. Tigran’s story has highlighted the prevalence of violence and abuse in Armenian child care centers and orphanages.

Since his arrival at the Children’s Center on December 21, Tigran has been meeting regularly with psychologists, social workers, and other specialized staff members. Though he’s still working to overcome the effects of the traumatic circumstances he has escaped, his mood has definitely improved. In fact, he has actively participated in various holidays events and celebrations at the Center. Tigran is also a very talented dancer, and we hope that he will soon join the dance classes organized by volunteers at the Children’s Center.

You may watch a video segment featuring Tigran’s story by Shant TV [in Armenian] below.

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