Sunday, September 9, 2018

Day 7 - Last day at Norogi and a visit to Warm Hearth

Today was our last day in Armenia.  We started our day with a stop at the Norogi Resource center to finish up our projects of the week.  We have been painting children' chairs and panting tea trays that were made with laminate floor remnants.


The plan is to sell the tea trays for 1000-1500 ($2-3 USD) dram a piece to help raise money for Habitat Armenia's projects.  To follow along with Habitat Armenia, click here.

We then headed over to Warm Hearth, which is the first group home in Armenia for people with special needs that have aged out of the orphanages.  They opened in 2006 and currently house 14 people at this location with a second location with 8 more people.  We were shown their house that includes administrative offices, therapy rooms and places were they can hand make rugs and pottery projects.

This specific group of people have been together most of their lives, having been from the same orphanage.  It is great that they are able to stay together and remain a family unit.  To learn more about Warm Hearth, please visit their website here.

Day 6 - Etchmiadzin, St. Hripsime, Lake Sevan and a reunion

Today we started out with a trip up to Etchmiadzin, which is where the first Christian church was built in 301 A.D.  It is known as the "Armenian Vatican."   We toured the grounds and saw as much as we could.  The alter and front rows of the church were under renovation.

We then stopped at the church of St. Hripsime, which was on our way to Lake Sevan.  St Hripsime church was built to honor the memory of one of the first Christian Martyrs.  It is one of the oldest surviving churches n Armenia, having been built in 618 A.D.

We then headed east to Lake Sevan, which also houses the monastery complex of Sevanavank.  Lake Sevan one of the largest freshwater lakes in Eurasia.

We then stopped at the Noratus cemetery, which houses the largest collection of khachkars (cross stones) in Armenia.

After a short walk through the cemetery, we took a short drive to visit Yura Hovhannisyan's family, whose house we worked on in 2015.  They had finished up the bathroom about a month after we left, and then completed the drainage system.  They finished the kitchen as well and put in a patio last year.  Unfortunately, Yura had passed away since we were there last.

Here is a photo of the outside of the old kitchen, that was detached from the house.

Here is the old toilet (outhouse).

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Day 5- Spitak and Vanadzor

Today we drove about an hour north of Yerevan to the town of Spitak to see the work that Habitat has done in the area.  We stopped at a building that was part of a project that fixed windows, front doors, roof and drainage of 12 buildings.

Most of the buildings that were affected by the earthquake in 1988 have been replaced or repaired, but there are still some people living in shipping containers. Here is an example of what a shipping container that has been upgraded looks like from the outside.

We also drove of to an area that was full of small fiberglass houses that had been donated by Italy to help with the housing situation right after the earthquake.

We then drove about an hour south east to visit a couple of social enterprises located in Vanazdor.  The first one was EREO, a non-profit, which stands for Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities.  Their mission is to provide training for people with disabilities to be able to work and create handmade crafts.  EREO was given a grant from the European Union to obtain equipment such as sewing machines and stamping machines for printing on glasses.  The Lory area has the highest percentage of disabled people, in large part because of the of lasting effects of the injuries from the 1988 earthquake.

We then headed to another social enterprise nearby, called the Apricot company, a for-profit.  They also employ people with disabilities to make crafts to be sold in the tourist areas such as Yerevan and Garni.  They have a total of 36 people that they employ, and their crafts range from wooden refrigerator magnets to tea filled wooden boxes.  They also have contracts to produce cloth for buyers in the region.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Day 4 - Khor Virap and more time at Norogi Resource center

We headed back to Yerevan after spending the night in Vayk.  We stopped at Khor Virap, which is where Gregroy healed King Tiridates and Christianity was proclaimed the state religion in 301 B.C.
Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity, which is Armenian Apostolic.

Khor Virap is located just around 100 meters (330ft) from the closed border with Turkey, and also has one of the best views of Mount Ararat.

After spending about an hour at Khor Virap, we continued on to Yerevan, where we would continue our work on painting trays and children's chairs to be offered for sale at the Resoure center.



Tomorrow we are heading north to Spitak to see the work the Habitat Armenia has been doing in the area.  Spitak was completely devastated in an earthquake in 1988.  Approximately 25,000 people lost their lives with an additional 150,000+ injured, in the area the earthquake occurred.  Spitak is said to have lost around 1/3 of their population.  The soviet response to rebuilding the area was to bring in shipping containers as temporary housing for the town's residents.  30 years later, people are still living in this temporary housing, as the Soviet union collapsed before the town of Spitak could be completed.  We will also be visiting another social enterprise in a nearby town of Vanadzor.