RIND, Armenia–May 25 was a special day in Rind, a beautiful village in Armenia’s southern wine region of Vayots Dzor, as students, teachers, and families gathered to celebrate “last bell” marking the end of the school year.Representatives of Armenia Tree Project (ATP) and The Paros Foundation were also there to celebrate the successful completion of their joint project at the primary school, which included a renovation of the school’s kitchen and cafeteria, the planting of more than 500 trees, and the introduction of ATP’s environmental education curriculum at the school.
“Our goal was to work together to significantly improve conditions here in Rind,” explains ATP Executive Director Jeanmarie Papelian. “The partnership between Paros and ATP has made a huge difference for the benefit of the children. We hope to repeat this success story by partnering with Paros to help other villages in the future.”
Funds to support this project were raised from an enjoyable sold-out benefit event in November at Almayass in New York. The event’s organizing committee consisted of Anahid Ugurlayan, Hooshere Bezdikian, Lisa Sarajian, and Nicole Vartanian, who worked tirelessly to ensure the event not only was enjoyed by all, but also met the financial goal.
As a result of the generous support of the guests, Paros completely renovated and furnished the school’s kitchen and cafeteria, allowing the school to prepare hot meals for the children.
ATP planted more than 500 trees and shrubs at the site and introduced its “Plant an Idea, Plant a Tree” environmental education curriculum at the school. The tree planting was initiated the day after the New York benefit event, with the remainder of the work completed this year.
“The decision to partner with Armenia Tree Project to address the needs at the school in Rind was not only successful, but inspirational. During our construction process, we literally witnessed the enthusiasm at the school with staff, students, and villagers rallying around the new trees and their future potential,” said Peter Abajian, Executive Director of The Paros Foundation. “This partnership is clearly the right way to build community support to solve a problem and I look forward to the next community we are able to work in together to put smiles on more villager’s faces.”
This morning, my colleague Gegham and I departed for the Hatsik School in Armavir despite the fact that it is International Women’s Day and a national holiday (schools are closed today and tomorrow.) Our construction crew is making solid progress renovating the school’s assembly hall and adjacent hallway. We began our work on one building in Hatsik with our SERVICE Armenia crew of volunteers in 2013, and an agreement with COAF to renovate the other building on campus. Both buildings are now in terrific shape and the students and staff are very excited about the addition of this assembly space. The auditorium and hallway renovation is sponsored through a generous donation from the Ariyan family from New York, who visited the school as part of their family visit to Armenia (thank you!) The crew informed us that work should be completed in 45 days.
We returned to Yerevan and made a quick stop at our amazing tailor who is not only altering a few things for me, but is embroidering a seat cover for our Mobile Dental Clinic. We dropped off new winter coats so he can add our Paros logo to them, and discussed adding the appropriate logos to staff scrubs for the Apelian Dental Clinic and the Mobile Dental Clinic.
Next stop was at the Ideal store. Ideal is one of the largest suppliers of building materials and supplies in Armenia. We purchase most of our tile, flooring, heating and bathroom fixtures from there because we have negotiated a very healthy discount on our purchases through their corporate offices. And as an added bonus, they are only importing products from Russia, Iran and Europe. So, our task at Ideal today was to purchase about 1,100 square feet of porcelain tiles for the kitchen and cafeteria at the Rind village school. Mission accomplished.
Along the way, we were able to successfully set our appointments for our visit to Vanadzor tomorrow.
I ended the day back at my apartment with some soup and giving in to my jet lag.
As part of our effort to be fully transparent, answer questions about our work and feature what it takes to implement successful projects, I am messing around with the concept of blogging highlights of my trip to Armenia on a daily basis–so here goes nothing.
This morning, my colleague, Gegham and I started our day at the George Apelian Dental Clinic in Yerevan. We have worked with the clinic for the last two years. The clinic provides free dental services for children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families through the Pyrkutyun Center in the Shengavit neighborhood of Yerevan. The clinic has a couple of needs including a $2,000 attachment to their x-ray machine that will allow for digital x-rays for their patients. We need to put together an effort to raise these funds.
Then, we left for the one and a half hour drive to the village of Rind. Back in November, The Paros Foundation and the Armenia Tree Project held a joint fundraiser in New York to raise support for the renovation of the Rind school’s kitchen, cafeteria and the planting of more than 500 trees and the implementation of environmental curriculum at the school. Thanks to the generous donors, this project is fully funded and a local crew has been hired and work is already underway. The mayor is overseeing some roof repairs and helping bring water and sewer lines to the new kitchen. Be sure to check out the Rind School project page on the website.
The work is progressing well. The crew was working on repairing the walls and pouring the new subfloors. Once they dry, they will begin working on the plaster and installing the new tile floor. We met with the school’s principal, Ashot, who is supervising the work on a daily basis. We discussed the kitchen equipment needs, furniture and additional supplies. We wrapped up our visit and headed back to Yerevan.
Upon our return to Yerevan, we were joined by our colleague, Sevan, and we met with the team at FAR to discuss possible cooperation on our Prosperity on the Border projects. Both Paros and FAR are working on several fronts with the communities along the Armenia Azerbaijan border in Tavush. We had a great discussion and hopefully this will lead to future cooperation.