“Hello and welcome!” the students of Gavar Special School exclaimed with excitement as they greeted their visitors. The second floor of their school had just been renovated thanks to the Friends of Gavar Special School of New York who came to Armenia last month to see the children.

The new floor is the final change in the long list of renovations that the group has made possible. Since 2008, special funding from FAR benefactors, primarily the Friends of Gavar Special School, have helped to renovate the school’s damaged roof and walls, and to equip it with an elevator.

When Krikor Krikorian first visited Gavar Special School 10 years ago he was shocked by its poor conditions. “No roof, no chairs, and no elevator, meaning the children could not move freely between the first and second floors to access classrooms so the teachers had to carry them,” he described. “Then we established the Friends of Gavar Special School of New York to improve the school’s accommodations. In the course of 10 years, with FAR’s support, we have renovated and furnished the school.”

While there is still more work to be done for the children of Gavar, support from Friends has really made a world of difference. The group has also helped to establish a recreation center for the school’s 42 mentally and physically disabled students. And it has provided technical equipment for embroidery, ceramics, carpentry, and shoemaking classes. In addition, last year, FAR’s local partner, HSBC Bank Armenia CJSC helped students by renovating the school’s psychotherapy classroom. FAR also organizes professional development trainings on a regular basis to the school’s therapists.

The day of the visit from the Friend’s group, the excited children performed songs and dances they’d previously rehearsed and they made “thank you” speeches to the group of supporters. After a brief tour, students presented them with small gifts they’d made from clay.