Archive for August, 2009


[Celine’s Dispatches: FAR’s Intern in Armenia]: We’ll miss you, Celine

August 31, 2009

By Levon Lachikyan

Prior to her internship at the FAR Yerevan Office, Celine Kaladjian had an opportunity to participate in the FAR Young Professionals’ Trip, which gave her a great opportunity to tour the country with other young Armenians. However, this was not Celine’s first trip to Armenia.

Born in Marseilles, France, Celine was raised in an Armenian district of the city. Currently, Celine studies at University of Bordeaux III (France). She first discovered Armenia in stories documented by her great-grandparents, emigrants from Western Region of Armenia in 1922. But only the death of Celine’s grandparents in 2005 motivated her to visit Armenia for the first time.

In June 2009, Celine visited Armenia for the second time. On her second visit she wrote: “I felt like I was back home”. Two months were enough for the young Armenian girl to get involved in various FAR programs and visit many corners of Armenia. She shared her impressions with our FAR supports, through many stories she wrote for the blog.

Celine quickly made friends with FAR Yerevan and Gyumri employees, enjoying the open and warm atmosphere in the FAR offices. Everybody at FAR was truly saddened by Celine’s departure.

Celine on her last day at the Yerevan office

+ Celine at FAR Yerevan office

Credit : Levon Lachikyan

One of the benefits of Celine’s internship in Armenia is that she also started learning the Armenian language! We believe that on her next visit, Celine will communicate with her Armenian friends through her beautiful Armenian language. We are looking forward to seeing


[Armenian Landscapes]

August 29, 2009

En Route from Gyumri to Yerevan


Credit : Levon Lachikyan


[Celine’s Dispatches: FAR’s Intern in Armenia]: Living in Barekamoutyoun

August 27, 2009

I live in the neighborhood around Barekamoutyoun (North-west Yerevan). When one of my Armenian friends first told me he knew of an apartment available in this area, I really didn’t know what to expect.  With a myriad of concrete buildings sprouting from the Earth, this district does not look appealing from the outside. Yet, within the masses of construction, one finds a very happy Armenian community.

When you think you’ve reached the end of a street in Barekamoutyoun, there’s usually a small passage that leads you to a quiet area, sort of a city in the city, if you will.  And you forget that you’re in Yerevan: people beat their wool, children play soccer, elderly play backgammon and street vendors display their colorful array of fruits.

Foreigners draw distinct glances from locals, but I know that this is more out of curiosity than anything else.  “Why would a foreigner come here?” they wonder.  When you approach a local in Barekamoutyoun, his or her face brightens.  For example, one street vendor lets out a childlike laugh every time I stop by his stand because he has to teach me the Armenian words for each type of fruit or vegetable.

No, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!

– Celine

View from my window: Nighttime in Barekamoutyoun


Credit : Celine Kaladjian


[Listening to Armenia]: On the Banks of the Debed River with Sayat Nova and the Young Professionals

August 25, 2009

By Daniele Faye Sourian Sahr

“Speak but one word, to say thou art Sayat Nova’s love” cries the last stanza of a love poem from the famous Armenian troubadour’s precious oeuvre of lyric poetry and songs. But how to choose that one word? How to tell him our culture’s love for him only grows stronger more than two centuries later?

Five days into the FAR Young Professionals trip, we stood at the grassy hillside of Haghpat monastery squinting across a 5 kilometer gorge on the right bank of the Debed River to glimpse Sanahin from a distance. Here, on this gleaming sunny Sunday we were witness to the passage of this extraordinary man’s life—born in Sanahin village only to die a few kilometers away at the hands of invading Persians in the Haghpat monastery.

Haghpat monastery

Haghpat_Blog III

Credit : Daniele Faye Sourian Sahr

But, oh, what a 5 kilometers to traverse – a journey that he would begin as a village weaver, that he would continue as a diplomat in the royal courts of Georgia, that he’d again embark upon as a heartbroken lover left to sing the music of his soul across all the Caucasus, and that he’d end, martyred, as a devout monk back in his beloved birth land.

That one word eludes us, so we express it in passing down the tradition of his song from one generation to the next. In Armenia, we name schools and streets after him. The acclaimed eponymous US dance group lauds his name with each performance, revering his art through technical prowess and graceful expression.

Sanahin monastery

Sanahin_Blog III

Credit : Daniele Faye Sourian Sahr

Sayat Nova, he is our “King of Songs” (the translation of this Persian name). He is, to borrow his own priceless words, “a golden cup, with water filled of immortality.” He stands out for us, forever, expressing Armenian culture through music and through the words of love, as if the sounds of his own kamancheh still rang, bowed across his knee, high up in the snowy peaks of the Caucasus.

Check out the charming and intimate sound of this old LP recording of Sayat Nova’s “Kani Vor Janim” backed by a traditional Armenian folk orchestra by clicking here.


[USAID]: Armenia Mission Director Jatinder Cheema visits FAR Yerevan office

August 24, 2009

To commemorate the completion of work on the “Rehabilitation of Water Supply of Artashat Town & 27 Designated Villages in the surrounding area” Program, USAID Armenia Mission Director Jatinder Cheema visited the FAR Yerevan Office on August 11, 2009.

FAR Executive Director Garnik Nanagoulian and
USAID Armenia Mission Director Jatinder Cheema

+ During Dr. Cheema's meeting

Credit : Levon Lachikyan

Dr. Cheema met the FAR staff, toured the Yerevan office, and held a detailed discussion with FAR leadership. FAR executive director Garnik Nanagoulian briefly introduced the guest of honor, highlighting the history of FAR and its accomplishments in Armenia over the past 20 years.  A special discussion was held to address preparations for the event to be held on August 26, 2009.  At the end of the meeting, Dr. Cheema thanked for the hospitality and the warm welcome.

USAID Armenia Mission Director Jatinder Cheema discovers FAR’s history

+ Dr. Cheema at FAR Yerevan office 1

Credit : FAR Staff


[Beneficiary Portraits]

August 21, 2009

Young Beneficiary from the Nor Nchaj Soup Kitchen (Yerevan)


Credit : Celine Kaladjian


[CSFC]: Beneficiaries stories

August 21, 2009

Gayane* is seventeen years old.  A few months ago, she knocked at the door of FAR’s Homeless Children Center seeking help.  For several years, she has withstood being abuse by family members.  One day, she decided to change her life.

She gathered her courage and left her house without letting anyone know about her plans.  She had nothing to lose and as she saw it, things could only get better for her.

And she was right.  She found shelter at the Homeless Children Center, and after a few weeks, she confided to the center’s psychologist that the Center helped her to feel like a respectable adult with a future full of possibilities.

Beneficiaries from the Children Center


Credit : Celine Kaladjian

* For reasons of privacy the name has been changed.


[Celine’s Dispatches: FAR’s Intern in Armenia]: Yerevan Disconnected from the Web

August 20, 2009

On July 13th, I went, as usual, to FAR’s Yerevan office to begin my day’s work.  However, on that particular day, we had no electricity and therefore no Internet.  After an hour, I realized that all hope was lost and I decided to go on a hunt through Yerevan for Internet.

After dropping by my fiancé’s office, it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to get a connection in the downtown area.  Therefore, I decided to go to some internet cafes outside of Yerevan’s city center. But alas, still no internet.

I was told “it happens!” in a very matter-of-fact way. Yerevan is not New York: in Yerevan, if you lose internet, you don’t worry about it.  You just leave work and enjoy the sunny afternoon: tomorrow will be another day!

– Celine

An old Volga in Yerevan’s streets

taxi yerevan

Credit : Celine Kaladjian


[GITC]: Congratulations to Graduates!

August 20, 2009

A generation of new Armenian technologists, some of whom are aspiring webmasters and others who are aspiring chip designers, recently graduated from GITC (also known as GTech) in Gyumri.

Opening with traditional Armenian dances, the ceremony was held in the Gyumri movie theatre.  M. Aram Hajian, dean of the engineering college of the American University in Armenia (AUA), delivered a speech emphasizing that the newly graduated students are the future of Gyumri.

Aram Hajian During his Speech


Credit : Celine Kaladjian

Jason Paul Kazarian, director of GITC, delivered a few remarks before distributing diplomas to the proud students. The ceremony concluded with the graduates, dressed in cap and gown, throwing their caps in the air and letting out bursts of joy.

Caps and Gowns for the GITC Graduates


Credit : Celine Kaladjian

GITC has proved to be a valuable project with respect to promoting sustainable development in Gyumri.  FAR’s support of GITC has inspired the municipality of Gyumri to start a massive project aimed at turning the city into a technology hub.

Jason Paul Kazarian Getting Ready to Cut the Cake


Credit : Celine Kaladjian


[CSFC] : Promoting Foster Care

August 19, 2009

More than 110 people – government officials and dignitaries alike – filled the Tekeyan Center on May 14th to discuss the importance of foster care with FAR. The event, which was conducted in cooperation with UNICEF-Armenia, opened with a blessing from the priest Ter-Zgon. Testimonies from experts and from families themselves extolled foster care as key to prevent the institutionalization of Armenian children and help biological families overcome their problems and reunite with their children.

Participants included representatives from the Armenian government (including the vice-prime minister), the National Assembly, public council, Child Rights Protection Units, UNICEF-Armenia, Yerevan State University, the state police, the Armenian Apostolic Church, and from the Ministry of Labor and Social Issues. Members of local and international organizations, foster families, and representatives from state childcare institutions also attended.

The audience gathered to discuss foster care


Credit : FAR Staff