Program in Lori region

Lori region is situated in the northern part of Armenia. It is the third largest region, with its population coming short only to the capital, Yerevan. The region has 9 towns and 105 villages. This part of Armenia is famous not only for its historical monuments, churches built in the 10th century, but also for its beautiful nature, rich forests. Every year thousands of tourists visit Lori region, and they admire not only the centuries-old churches, but also its wonderful nature. Tourists visiting the region seem to find themselves in a paradise, but people living here have so many problems that they do not even think about admiring the beauty of their inhabitation and delighting the wonders of nature. In the framework of Diaconia Charitable Fund’s programs each month we visit various places, including Lori, meet with families living in poor conditions that need help. We have already implemented programs funded by sponsors for thousands of families. The problem of daily bread has been solved for the majority, children have new clothes, they live in new and renovated homes, but along with all this there is another important problem: to provide a happy, fun and lastly, a carefree childhood to the kids. The full up kid needs rest, kids entertainment, where they will not only relax, gain new experiences, but also learn many new things with the help of professionals such as singing, dancing, drawing, making handicrafts. Diaconia Charitable Fund gives great importance to such programs because children that are living in poor social conditions and having a dark and gloomy life, need a more cheerful children’s routine, which unfortunately is not available to them. We meet many children, who tell us that they dream of going somewhere in summer, relaxing in nature’s lap, breathing fresh air, however it is very hard to guarantee this, because summer camps and resorts are so expensive in Armenia that even middle class people cannot afford it, let alone families living in poor social conditions that cannot even think about it. Along with children growing in poor families, the situation is very tight with needy lonely elderly people. This group is increasing largely, and the main reason for this is the growing number of people leaving for work abroad. Younger family members are leaving to find work abroad, and the elderly stay alone in their homes in Armenia. It does not always happen that those who leave to work abroad hoping to find a job, can make money there, so they are unable to support the elderly members of the family financially. Elderly people cannot earn money here so they have to rely on their extremely low pension only. It is very hard to live on a pension, especially in winter when besides buying food, they have to also pay extra utility bills, particularly cost of gas for heating their houses. Sadly, gas prices have been increased by 50 % for several months already. These lonely and helpless elderly people very often have gray, cold and hungry days. When meeting with us, many of them say that they are looking forward to dying so they can get rid of this hard life. Most of them are definitely awaiting the end of their existence to set themselves free from earthly concerns and sufferings. You may think of why these elderly people are not being taken to senior homes? There are no locations available for elderly people’s care and entertainment, where they could spend their days, eat and warm up in cold winter days. There are nursing homes in three major cities of Armenia, where elderly people with no place of residence live. The number of applications for nursing homes is so large that they cannot accept any new ones. The housing conditions are limited. The number of lonely elderly people is greater in regions because many are leaving in search of jobs abroad. For example, out of 2,000 people residing in Tumanyan town of Lori region, 80 are single elderly, so imagine how high the number would be in Lori region with its 290 000 inhabitants. Having weighed all of the needs above, the Fund decided to buy a house, renovate and furnish it, and start a summer camp, an entertainment and educational center for children and the elderly people. The most important thing was to obtain a building for the center. We didn’t have to look for it too long, as after learning about the idea, the mayor of Tumanyan town of Lori region expressed his willingness to help us with a building search. There was an abandoned building of a former kindergarten in the city that no longer operates. Two of the residents have privatized half of the building years ago, and the other half remained under the management of the city’s municipality. The latter was gladly donated to the Fund by the mayor. We also received approval for one of its citizens at an affordable price for the sale of his part. As the building was originally designed for a kindergarten, it is very convenient to use as a recreation and entertainment center for children and adults. The building that was constructed after the earthquake only requires repair works and furnishing. The other issue is the need of teachers required to engage with children, as well as psychologists and nurses to work with the elderly. This is the third problem which will be solved thanks to this project. The number of unemployed is large in Lori region in general and in Tumanyan town in particular. After opening such center, about a dozen unemployed people, especially women, will get a chance to find jobs. Increasing unemployment contributes to the growth of poverty, and if one has a job, he can provide for his needs. On one hand, this program provides a place for children to rest, and on the other hand, provides care for helpless and lonely elderly. The third thing about it is that it provides work opportunity for ten unemployed women deprived of income. Finally we were able to complete an important project, which was carried out not for one, ten, but for hundreds of poor families. Which is called here, is ‘a Social Support Center’ in Tumanyan town of Lori region. Tumanyan town of Lori region is 150 km away from Yerevan. It is surrounded by forests and has beautiful nature. The location is very convenient to carry out programs aimed at preservation of health. There are many poor families who have a problem with getting their daily bread. Among them are single elderly that are also in need of care. On the other hand, the Fund receives numerous applications each month from children with poor families that want to spend their summer vacation in some kind of a resort. Hence came the idea of having a type of space where these two programs can be carried out at different times. We reached out to several mayors, asking whether they might have an area that could be donated to the Fund for these programs’ implementation. We received a response from the mayor of Tumanyan. It turned out that indeed there was such a building in the community that served as a kindergarten in the past. This building hasn’t been used since the collapse of the Soviet Union and was breaking down day by day. Based on the decision of the state government, the Fund transferred a certain percentage of the cadastral value of the property, and the building was granted to Diaconia-Armenia Fund.  Later on, the basic reconstruction works have started. We mention ‘basic’ as eeverything has been changed fundamentally here – the pipes were rotten, doors and windows were broken, there were large fractures in the walls. However, when entering the building today, even us, the workers often forget what it used to look like before. We were able to repair it with the sponsors support, and it started to serve its purpose in the summer of 2016. The summer camp program has been implemented here, resulting in 30 children to be able to fully relax and enjoy the summer days. We are planning to continue the program’s implementation, followed by its second part which is the elderly people’s care…