Building a Stronger Society: COAF’s Project H.O.P.E. Fosters Cohesion Among Displaced Children

In today’s rapidly changing world, fostering cohesion is paramount, especially for children uprooted from their homes due to forced displacement from Artsakh. Beginning anew in unfamiliar environments, schools, and communities, they face daunting challenges. Recognizing the critical need for support, COAF launched Project H.O.P.E., an initiative that sees through numerous projects, one of which we’re highlighting today.

Through the “Bridging Children through Culture and Books” initiative in collaboration with the Armenian Family Support Service (AFSS), we aim to enhance social cohesion in the Armavir and Lori regions by uniting local students with those displaced from Artsakh. Over 400 students ages 6 to 15 participated in puppet shows put on by the “Khagharan” and “Tsil” studios, forging new friendships and emphasizing community well-being.

Our colleagues from “Khagharan” shared insights from the interactive show, “What Color Are the Emotions?” where each child expressed their feelings. “Some children displaced from Artsakh mentioned feeling scared due to the events of September, 2023. However, they now feel safer having found new friends. Yet, the survey results indicate that fear remains a lingering emotion for these children. With participants of varying ages, the presentations provided an opportunity to understand the emotions experienced at different stages of life, fostering connections among children of different ages.”

The puppet studio “Tsil”, dedicated to promoting national heritage, showcased an interactive performance titled “Barekendan”. According to them, “From the outset, the children were captivated by the fairy tale, eagerly anticipating each unfolding moment, both on stage and in the audience. They actively engaged with the characters, posing questions, responding to prompts, and immersing themselves in the story. To capitalize on their enthusiasm and ensure an enriching experience, we concluded the performance with lessons on traditional games and dances. The fact that the children were reluctant to leave at the end speaks volumes about the success of our presentation.”

In addition to puppet shows, COAF and AFSS distributed gift packages to Artsakh children which included books, interactive games, and educational materials.

COAF Project H.O.P.E. Manager, Diana Movsisyan, highlights the successful track record of collaboration between these two organizations. Starting in 2022, COAF and AFSS joined forces to implement programs in rural communities of Artsakh. The series of performances marks the third iteration of this collaboration, now in Armenia. “The interactive nature of the shows has played a pivotal role in fostering unity, understanding, and mutual respect among students, while also cultivating cultural and emotional awareness as well as a passion for reading,” says Diana. “The program has not only facilitated the development of friendly relations among participants but has also nurtured a supportive environment, leaving a lasting impact on the hearts and minds of those involved.”

Our aim is to foster the development of a more empathetic and accountable society, where every child has the opportunity to realize their potential and attain success. We extend our gratitude to our partner for their invaluable collaboration which is geared toward making that happen for all children.

As COAF’s Project H.O.P.E. continues its journey, stay tuned for updates on other uplifting events in the pipeline.

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