A journey of a thousand miles begins with one village

11 September 2020

By Nane Vardanyan,
Photos by: Knar Babayan

3 min read

If you made it here to read the blog, you most likely have electricity, Internet access, and a computer or a gadget. Hope you are also warm, safe and sound.

Armenian villages differ by their heartwarming environment, rustic nature, traditional cuisine, and candid, hospitable people speaking varied dialects.

Just like all villages in Armenia, the ones in the Gegharkunik region have their own unique language. However, when wandering through this region, you’ll come across Martuni village where you will hear pure Eastern Armenian, unlike the language people speak in its adjacent communities. So, what’s the secret here?

Martuni was established in 1921 by 12 migrant families who moved here from Van, Alashkert, Kars, and Sasun towns of Western Armenia after the Armenian Genocide. Settling here, the newcomers found out their Western Armenian dialects were so different that they could hardly understand each other. The people of Martuni decided to adapt to Eastern Armenian, the language of their new home, without mixing it with the dialects of nearby villages.

Gegharkunik is the region of Sevan lake, the blue-eyed beauty of Armenia. In 2016, we formed a consortium together with several organizations  and joined the “One village” program aimed at developing Martuni village through programs in health, education, economic development, capacity-building, and other advancement projects

COAF’s involvement in Martuni has included the renovation of the local health post, health screenings for residents, treatment of cavities, and the renovation of the local kindergarten restrooms. Our efforts in Martuni also culminated with the opening of a cafeteria and brushodrome (tooth-brushing station) at the local elementary school.

In 2018, with already 11 members of the “One Village” program, we moved towards the next village – the bordering Navur village of the Tavush region. As more organizations have joined our noble mission of empowering Armenia’s villages, the consortium has since involved Armenian Missionary Association of AmericaShen NGODevelopment Principles NGOFund for Armenian ReliefWorld Vision ArmeniaTeach for ArmeniaWCC Armenia Round Table FoundationArmenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU)Diaconia Charitable Fund, and Armenian Caritas benevolent NGO.

Thanks to our mutual efforts, Navur has had a new potable water system, a refurbished football field, a basketball court, new playgrounds, and new vital agro-machinery. To foster health and wellness among the community members, COAF doctors have been training Navur’s local health providers and conducting health screenings for its villagers.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step or a “single village.” We have already reached 64 villages of Armenia, but there are over 900 villages in Armenia where people deserve to have better living standards.

Are you joining us in empowering the next “one village”?

An unknown world in the cradle of nature: Debed Canyon

The road to hi-tech runs through Akori village