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[FAR Partnerships | ACYOA Dispatches]: The 2010 ACYOA Armenia Service Program Day 9 – Temporary Shelters in Gyumri. standard

By Katrina Shakarian Credit: Katrina Shakarian The earthquake that struck Armenia in 1988 left 25,000 people dead, and thousands homeless. Today, 22 years after the disaster, many families are still waiting for the government to provide those who lost their homes with an apartment. In the wake of the disaster, the government distributed metal containers to house the homeless. Although they were supposed to be temporary, they’ve become permanent staples in Gyumri’s landscape. Thousands of families have made their homes in these metal bins, and an entire generation of children has grown up in Gyumri’s sprawling shanty towns. Credit: Katrina Shakarian FAR’s Gyumri staff took us on a tour of one such area. We weaved in and out of metal ...

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[FAR Partnerships | ACYOA Dispatches]: The 2010 ACYOA Armenia Service Program Day 6 – FAR’s Soup Kitchen. standard

By Katrina Shakarian ASP-ers divided their time in Gyumri between assisting with renovations at the Ounjian school and FAR’s soup kitchen. Everyday four members joined the staff at the soup kitchen, where they helped prepare a meal for 100-140 senior citizens. The kitchen employs four people who prepare meals and clean the facility. The soup kitchen is run by FAR; it was established by benefactors Margarite and Nishan Atinizian of New Jersey. The average beneficiary is over 65, and lives alone in Gyumri. Many of their children have gone abroad. Some are orphans who were sent to Gyumri as teenagers to work in Soviet textile factories. Some lost their spouses during the war in Karabakh. Others are refugees from Azerbaijan or ...

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[FAR Partnerships | ACYOA Dispatches]: The 2010 ACYOA Armenia Service Program Day 5 – FAR’s Ounjian School and Soup Kitchen. standard

By James Balakian Like every day in Gyumri, today was incredibly busy. Apart from our work at both the Ounjian School and the soup kitchen, we partook in the blessing of the Ounjian School. We also had the opportunity to meet an elderly woman, who walks to the soup kitchen every day. Respectively, these events brought me both joy and sadness. First, Father Tateos blessed the Ounjian School. The presence of Doctor Ounjian, along with the governor of Shirak province, further added to the significance of the event.  As this school comes closer to opening, it allows some light to shine where there has been much darkness. Gyumri is a city that still struggles from the earthquake of 1988. There ...

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[FAR Partnerships | ACYOA Dispatches]: The 2010 ACYOA Armenia Service Program Day 5 – Gyumri Youth Center. standard

By Eric Ashbahian Do as the locals do. That has been my credo as I have toured and worked in Armenia over the past week and a half. When the group visited a local youth center, one of the girls there said that some youth were gathering in the main square to read at 7:30 in the evening. At the time I did not know exactly why they were doing this, but I learned that the goal of the event was twofold: to try to show Gyumri locals that reading is not geeky and to bring the local youth together. We read silently for about 15 minutes and then had discussions in groups of about 10 as to why we ...

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[FAR Partnerships | ACYOA Dispatches]: The 2010 ACYOA Armenia Service Program Day 4 – Gyumri & FAR’s Octet Music School. standard

By Katrina Shakarian Gyumri is known throughout Armenia as a city of artists. Its old city, for example, boasts a unique style of architecture that you’ll see nowhere else in Armenia. While the rest of the country, particularly Yerevan, is an amalgam of Soviet apartment blocks and modern architecture, Gyumri’s old city is reminiscent of Armenian homes in Gharz and Erzurum, now cities in eastern Turkey. While much of Armenia is currently built with pink toof rocks, architects in 19th-century Gyumri built their homes with black toof. Levon from FAR’s Yerevan office took me on a tour of the old city, known by the locals as Slabotka. The buildings there are in different states of ruin because of the 1988 ...

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