Togetherness at the time of pandemic

8 May 2020

By Nane Vardanyan,
Photos by Tigran Melkonyan

3 min read

As the world continues to fight the spread of COVID-19, the Children of Armenia Fund works in the villages of Armenia, where the communities we serve are at risk, the economies are vulnerable, families are not financially protected, and this virus can create additional hardships for our villagers. Accordingly, we had to act urgently.

Virus prevention, social-economic protection, and awareness-raising are the major priorities of our current focus. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, our social workers, psychologists, speech therapists, and doctors quickly switched to remote work together with all COAF educational programs. They have been working with our beneficiaries from one-on-one calls, virtual meetings to training local leaders to help their communities navigate through this crisis.

What is coronavirus? Who are among the risk groups? How to stay safe and protect themselves? How to make it all work in a less stressful way? What do government agencies offer to families, and how they can benefit from it? These are some of the questions COAF specialists have been working on towards raising awareness among our community.

Thankfully, we are not alone in our mission. In April and May, we have collaborated with our longtime partner EU Armenia to provide exceptional humanitarian aid to 1000 socially vulnerable families of the Lori region. The families from 26 rural and 2 urban (Vanadzor and Alaverdi) COAF-beneficiary communities receive aid two times. The pack provided to each family includes primary food, hygiene items, and stationery. The selection of socially vulnerable families is based on COAF’s social workers’ years-long heartfelt work, in-depth research, needs assessment, and results of regular monitoring.

“The families appreciate the support, and despite their difficult living conditions, they stay positive and maintain their unique sense of humour,” mentions Elmira Gevorgyan, a Social Worker at the COAF SMART center. She has been traveling through the communities and handing in the aid packs, maintaining proper safety guidelines.

These are indeed uncertain times for children as well. Kids might not entirely understand why their social interaction with friends and family members are limited. They most likely miss school and their after-school programs.

Our psychologists have been working with COAF kids on a daily basis. “We prepare games, conduct Zoom calls, Facebook LIVEs with children and their parents to ensure entertaining activity and certain progress before we hopefully return to our normal routine,” explains Varsik Senekerimyan, the Child Development Instructor at COAF. Varsik thinks that one of the advantages of living in rural communities is that children can play outside more often, be around nature, thus feeling the social isolation much less than urban people.

This is the work our dedicated team members and local partners have been doing for 16 years, and now, their work is needed more than ever. As always, 100% of your donations go directly to rural Armenian families, helping them to get through the hardships, stay strong and positive. Together we can create the greatest power to fight the pandemic.

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