Following the devastating 1988 Spitak earthquake which killed around 25,000 people and made half a million homeless in Armenia, SOS Children's Villages decided to offer immediate aid to the children who had lost their parents. Since then, SOS Children's Villages has continued to support children, young people and families, and it is now present in three locations. Most recently, we are supporting children and families affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
One in five children living in poverty
Celebrating in the sunshine (photo:K.Ilievska)
Idjevan, the capital of Tavush province, is located on the banks of the river Aghstev, about 140 kilometres north-east of Yerevan. The city is home to around 20,000 people. The area is mountainous, with many rivers and woods.
Idjevan is the administrative and business centre of the province. Although once famous for its carpet-weaving factories, production has decreased in recent years. The town is also known for its wood manufacturing, the production of building materials and wine.
Armenia is a poor country, and the area around Idjevan is one of its most underdeveloped regions. The rate of unemployment is high, with many more people being underemployed. Around 60 per cent of the population lives in rural areas. Environmental problems such as flooding, crop scarcity, pollution and an inefficient use of land and water have affected many families' ability to make a living in their home area. They have been forced to move elsewhere, thus also losing their social network of support.
Children who are most at risk of living in poverty include: those from larger families (more than two children), younger children, those with disabilities, and those living in a household with a female head. Overall, the number of Armenian children without parental care, especially of social orphans, has been increasing steadily over the past few years. These children often suffer from malnutrition.
Providing support for those who need it most
Idjevan was the second location in Armenia where SOS Children's Villages started working. The Armenian government and the local authorities are very supportive of our work, as the economic crisis has hindered their ability to meet the needs of vulnerable people. SOS Children's Villages is located close to the city centre. There are schools, kindergartens, a music school and a sports training centre nearby.
What we do in Idjevan
Siblings from the family strengthening programme (photo: M. Morosini )
SOS Children's Villages aims to strengthen local families by helping them take good care of the children. Together with local authorities and other agencies, we ensure that children go to school, and that they have access to nutritional and health support. We give advice on parenting skills and income generation. Families' social skills are developed through a variety of leisure time activities. Furthermore, we strengthen communities so that vulnerable members have someone to turn to in times of need.
Children whose families can no longer take care of them can find a loving home in one of the fourteen SOS families. They attend nearby schools or kindergartens together with local children, which helps them become part of the community.
In Idjevan, an important part of our work is directed at the improvement of education in schools in the local area. We offer a range of activities which aim to enhance the skills of teachers and educators and make their teaching more child-oriented. Individual children are supported and offered help with school work.