Meet Swathi Gopala Krishna.

A master’s student at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, who is focusing on nutrition, Swathi has been volunteering for FAR for the past three months.

Swathi candidly admits that she knew very little idea about FAR until she came to Armenia and met with her supervisors, Health Programs Director Dr. Hambardzun Simonyan, and Health Programs Officer Dr. Vahé Krmoyan.

“I chose FAR because I met with the Armenian Volunteer Corps representative at my school and they told me how FAR is doing research on nutrition in collaboration with Columbia University,” she explained.

She was immediately interested.

Swathi decided she wanted to work on the nutrition program that FAR has been implementing in Berd as part of the Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP). She has conducted research and trend analysis to understand the current state of undernutrition in Armenia and, more specifically, the Berd Region. She also designed a survey which will be carried out among children, parents and local healthcare service providers to better understand the outcomes of FAR’s improved kindergarten meal program. Swathi also helped to make some additional changes in the current meal plan by adding more diversified and locally available options, and by removing tea from the drink choices.

“When I came here, I learned that there is a stunting problem. In my country of India, this is a huge problem and there has been no improvement. Here, they have seen an improvement, which I think is a phenomenon. I think that FAR is doing something important about this issue, which I recognize and appreciate,” she stated. Swathi said she is eager to share her knowledge on nutrition in Armenia with her colleagues and peers back in India.

Apart from volunteering, Swathi has also traveled and made friends in Armenia. “I’ve gotten to learn a lot about the culture and the people. I like the chocolates and the food, and the apricots and strawberries are the best I’ve ever had. I feel healthier here and more energetic than in Michigan,” she said.

Thank you so much for your work, Swathi jan.