We’d like to thank all volunteers for visiting the socially vulnerable youngsters and brightening up their day!
Beneficiaries of the Children’s Support Center are often directed there as victims of domestic violence and trafficking, children with behavioral problems, teenagers in trouble with the law and runaway youth who are tracked down by the police. Statistics show that children from single-parent households and of underprivileged parents are more likely to run away and become involved in dangerous activities. Many children come to the center with health problems, and nearly all of them are psychologically depressed.
Children’s relationships with their parents often get strained at the stage of adolescence, to a critical point, as a result of which many of them run away from home. This happens especially in cases of drastic deterioration of life circumstances. Many children remember growing up in a happy family with both mother and father, but the reality they face is a result of the quarrels between and the eventual divorce of their parents. Busy contending for their parental rights in continuous trials, the former couple often disregards the children’s opinions and well-being.
Such tribulations hinder youngsters from opening up about their troubles. Only some of them may tell their stories, but for others, it takes long months – even years – to somehow reveal their problems. Once at the Children’s Center, many remain silent during their first meeting with the specialists. In fact, they stay protective of their personal space for a long time after being welcomed to the Center. Even in their scarce communication within this new environment, they often look at their elder siblings as if asking for permission to speak out.
It is vital that these children stop considering themselves inadequate. The Center works to alter beneficiaries’ perception of their lives as toys scattered on the floor by uncaring parents and adverse life circumstances. Here, children receive special individualized care from professionally trained staff of social workers, psychologists, and nurses work to return them to a safe family environment and avoid the methodical institutionalization that so many troubled children in Armenia face.
The Children’s Support Center, established in 1999 by the Fund for Armenian Relief, has since pursued its distinct mission as a full-service facility for at-risk children and their families. It is unique in working with both the children and their families to counsel, educate, and support them every step of the way with the goal of securing a stable and loving home for beneficiaries. In the process, the Center serves as a safe welcoming hearth for vulnerable children to lift them up from despair and to guide them to a better future.
By Manane Petrosyan
FAR Children’s Center supporter Lynn Barsamian and her children Emily, Peter and David recently honored the facility with a visit to learn more about its services.
The Center’s children and the staff warmly welcomed the guests. Executive Director Dr. Mira Antonyan gave Mrs. Barsamian and her children a tour, which helped to familiarize them with the children’s stories. She also spoke in depth about the role the FAR Children’s Center has played in their lives. The Barsamians also saw a presentation and a film about the Center’s beneficiaries, which was followed by a lively discussion.
Executive Director Dr. Mira Antonyan (left) with
supporter Lynn Barsamian and her children
during their recent visit to the FAR Children’s Center.
By Manane Petrosyan
Last week, the FAR Children’s Center celebrated Vardavar, one of the most beloved holidays for Armenians. Vardavar is a unique water festival, which dates back to Pagan times and is associated with Astghik, the goddess of water, love and fertility. During this holiday many rules of social etiquette are thrown out; people are expected to drench their relatives, friends and even strangers with water. During Vardavar it is said that a blessing comes with every drop of water that’s poured on another person.
On this special holiday Yerevan Djur, a company that manages the city’s water supply, invited all 35 children currently staying at the Children’s Center to visit the Water Stock of Yerevan, located in Arzni. Yerevan Djur is a member of the Center’s Circle of Friends supporters group. The children enjoyed a tour around the facility and they also learned about the process of supplying water to the population.
Despite the rainy weather that day the children poured water on each other, as it is tradition. They also played various games and socialized with famous actors, who are also members of the Circle of Friends and who had decided to celebrate Vardavar with the children.
Beneficiaries of the FAR Children’s Center celebrated
Vardavar during their visit to the Water Stock of Yerevan.
By Manane Petrosyan
Everyone at the FAR Children’s Center is deeply saddened by the death of one of our beneficiaries – the very sweet, talented and much beloved Meruzhan* who passed away last month from cancer. Meruzhan was just seven years old. Center staff had been assisting Meruzhan by accompanying him and his family on hospital visits, and by providing therapy and donations of food and clothing.
“I imagine there is no pain greater than losing a child. My heart and prayers go out to little Meruzhan’s family at this most difficult time. We very much hope that he’s with the angels now,” said Center Director Dr. Mira Antonyan.
*Meruzhan’s last name has been withheld for privacy reasons.
Meruzhan, a seven-year-old beneficiary of the
FAR Children’s Center, passed away from cancer last month.
Meruzhan often painted and drew as a way of coping
with his illness and hospitalization.
By Grigor Ghazaryan
FAR has recently organised a special IT workshop for tutors and facilitators working at the FAR Children’s Center. Alexander Jahani, a burgeoning visual artist who is currently developing his career among the Armenian diaspora, volunteered to teach and provide hands-on assistance to the staff who work in the Center’s media lab. Alexander also attended the 2012 Young Professionals Trip last month.
The aim of the workshop was to help staff become more familiar with the fundamental differences between the functions and applications of the operating systems of PCs and Macs. About 10 participants enjoyed their introduction to the Mac computers that are owned by the Center. Prior to the workshop the staff barely used them because they lacked the skills to do so. “It’s important to develop knowledge from a ‘center’ of simple things around which you can start to expand and explain related things without having the group feel overwhelmed,” said Alexander.
Alexander is glad to share his knowledge and skills, and the staff seem to be gradually losing their fear of working on Macs through a simple approach to and familiarization with photography and basic editing software.
Staff who work in the Center’s media lab had barely
used the lab’s computers because they previously lacked the
skills to do so.
On June 3, Yerevan’s Victory Park was filled with joyous crowds celebrating the 5th annual Best for our Children Day event. The day-long festivities held in honor of International Child Protection Day were organized by the FAR Children’s Center’s Circle of Friends support group in collaboration with prominent Armenian cultural figures who sold delicious goods, which had been generously donated by private companies. The event included an exhibition of children’s artwork, along with games, contests, a concert and spectacular fireworks. All proceeds from the event, which raised awareness of child protection issues, were donated to the FAR Children’s Center.
The Best for Our Children in Yerevan’s Victory Park.