It’s 5 in the morning, and the sun is about to seize the smallish village of Lernagog in the smallest region of Armenia, the Armavir province, that mainly consists of agricultural lands. Here streets are well-improved, enlightened, and the people commonly grow grapes, sun-kissed tomatoes, and mouth-watering apricots at the heart of the Ararat plain.
Though the village does not boast having rich nature, it does have something to be proud of. Lernagog is known as one of the cleanest communities of the entire Armenia! People know how to take care of their environment and pass the good tradition from generation to generation. Both the mentality and the trash bins in the streets remind the villagers to keep it neat and tidy. The people of Lernagog have gathered and organized community cleanings many times, thus starting their village life from a clean sheet.
Streets full of young bikers is the new reality of Lernagog. “Biking has recently become very trendy in our village. It’s truly contagious – everyone wants to have one. If you happen to be there in the evening, you will see about 30 kids out with bicycles,” says Nareh Galstyan, a COAF Alumna from Lernagog, who turned out to be among the first generation of students to attend the community school fully renovated by COAF.
Nareh could hardly believe the refreshed school she entered was the same building they had before. The Creativity Lab established by COAF was her favorite room. “The tables were non-standard, either round, good for group discussions, or for a single sitting, convenient for having your own space. I also liked the tables with washable dashboards,” remembers Nareh with enthusiasm. She believes the appearance of the educational environment is truly essential for developing a creative mindset and out-of-box thinking. The computers provided to the school also gave a new spirit to the youth who then started to have access to endless news sources.
Besides School education programs of the English Access program, Drawing, Debate Club, and Basketball, we have been providing free speech therapy, social work, dental, and health screening services in Lernagog. This community is one of the dozen COAF-supported villages where the health facility was not only renovated by COAF but also receives medical gear and equipment from time to time.
Hiking is a thing in Lernagog! The mountains woven together offer great hiking spots near the capital. One of the symbols of the village is a mountain with a monument of 1915 and Mount Ararat on it. Every year, on April 24, the people of Lernagog climb the mountain to commemorate the innocent victims of the Armenian genocide – a special ceremony for the villagers from kids to the elderly.
Armavir has a special place in COAF’s history as it’s the land where we started our development projects back in 2004. And Lernagog itself is the community, where the schoolchildren who were COAF beneficiaries a decade ago grew to COAF ambassadors; three of them are now part of staff members, and others have pursued successful careers in medical, IT, and other fields.