Meet Anna Avetyan. She is a singing teacher who also directs an after-school choir in Artsvaberd, a small community in Tavush Province where FAR implements its Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP). BCPP funds more than 14 extracurricular activity groups and four Sunday schools in Tavush’s Berd Region. A total of about 580 students are enrolled in these various groups, which ultimately aim to fight child poverty by igniting children’s interest in the arts and by boosting their confidence.

In 2016, FAR offered Anna, 28, the opportunity to manage the choir group in order to help the students to develop their musical skills. Currently, Anna has 45 students, in grades two through eight, who attend her lessons twice a week.

“When I first set foot in the school, I realized the students lacked any knowledge of music, as they hadn’t had a teacher for ages. I encountered students who would follow every assignment, as well as those who were scared to ask a question or come up with a suggestion, and those who would look at you and gossip about your appearance. While it was funny, it was also challenging,” said Anna.

Born in Kotayq Province, Anna grew up in the village of Vazashen, in the Ijevan Region of Tavush, and quickly noticed the lack of professional music teachers in the province. She went on to study music in Yerevan and moved to Artsvaberd after she got married in 2014.

It didn’t take her long to help her students focus more on music, while rising to any challenge she came across. She still carries her synthesizer back and forth between lessons since the school doesn’t have any musical instruments available. FAR also helped her lessons by providing sheet music and pencils for the students.

Today, she is happy to have advocated for her students, having helped them to become more self-confident. “It was FAR that extended us a helping hand and provided the kids with some tools to learn music and song. Now, thanks to FAR, we have learned how to read sheet music, but first and foremost, my students have built inner confidence. Now, they approach me with suggestions and are not shy to ask questions. Now, I can see their eyes shine, which I couldn’t see before,” she remarked proudly. “I care for each of them.”

FAR’s Education and Science Program Manager Eduard Karapetyan values Anna’s efforts very much. “Anna is one of the youngest devotees to BCPP who puts all of her energy into getting the children of Artsvaberd passionate about music,” he said. “I was present at their first concert; they have formed a great choir. Bravo!”

*Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP) is a multidimensional FAR project addressing child poverty in the region of Tavush, sponsored by the Edward and Helen Mardigian Foundation.