Eleven-year-old Liana Nazarian’s appetite for knitting was ingrained at an early age. Born and raised in the village of Aygedzor in Tavush Province, she always remembered seeing the beautiful blankets, covers, and kitchen accessories that had been knitted by her granny, and she carried these images with her, along with her hope that she would one day, too, learn how to knit.

“I so wanted to learn knitting but I didn’t know how I would do so, neither did my mother,” recalled Liana. Two years ago, she finally got the chance when she, along with 29 other children, started attending the newly-opened Aygedzor extracurricular group for knitting, embroidery, and crocheting, which is supported by FAR’s Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP).

Usually Liana finishes a project in a week, which is very good for her age. Recently she demonstrated her works at an exhibition held for the community that featured all of the artwork made by kids in the group.

FAR’s Education and Science Programs Manager Eduard Karapetyan was also present at the exhibition and was impressed with Liana’s and the others’ accomplishments. He attributed their success to the group’s supervisor Anahit Melkumyan.

“These children have a talent for embroidery and crocheting; their works are amazing. Fund for Armenian Relief will continue its mission of contributing to children’s development in this border region,” he noted.

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 help children to find an outlet of creativity and aid in their development in a region where there is little else to occupy their time.

Siramarg Aydinyan, 50, is an extracurricular group supervisor who has been enduring a complicated commute to Aygepar and Movses villages for three years now to teach drawing. “Every time I get to school, I see my students assembled at the building waiting for me to start the class. It makes me happy,” said Siramarg, proudly, adding that subjects like drawing and miniature art for manuscripts had been removed from the curriculum in Berd Region schools for years until FAR brought them back through these special clubs.

Currently, Siramarg’s group is attended by 20 students, ages 9-15, who are provided with equipment and tools needed for painting—easels, chairs, drawing paper, watercolor, oil paints, etc. In the summer of 2017, her student, 14-year-old Mery Avagyan, participated in a drawing competition entitled “Architect” and won second place among the 10 participants from Berd five communities.

“It was Mery’s first time working with oil paint and she did it very well,” said Siramarg. She noted that besides teaching she also focuses on advocating art as a career. Although it is difficult, Siramarg hopes some students like Mery will choose drawing as a profession.

“This part of the BCPP project encourages teenagers to spend their free time learning new skills, which hopefully become hobbies, and maybe even lifetime paths. All group supervisors are true and dedicated professionals and we have seen great changes in these kids in short periods of time,” said Eduard.