Seven-year-old love story: Vanand

by Nane Vardanyan

There are over 850 villages in Armenia. Getting to know each of them is learning about a new culture, history, people, and problems. It also means discovering fascinating places which one can hardly find on touristic maps.

Vanand village is one of the 90 rural communities of the Armavir region. If Vanand were a human being, it would be a millennial around its 30s.

Here inhabitants — Armenians and Yazidis — do the daily hustle, namely, cattle breeding and agriculture.

“Everything grows well in our village: apricots, apples, grapes, melon, and watermelon,” proudly states COAF Alumna Gohar Asatryan, who now spends only her weekends in her beloved home village. Pursuing higher education took Gohar to Yerevan, where she is a freshman at Armenian State Economic University. “The social life is more dynamic in Yerevan, but I love Vanand,” she describes their “relationship” in brief.

COAF Alumna Gohar Asatryan from Vanand village.

Before moving to Yerevan, Gohar attended the school, where COAF has renovated the roof, the windows, the gym, and the creativity lab since 2014.

The school of Vanand after new windows’ installation.

People remember this year quite well in Vanand. It was the time when COAF stepped into the community and added vibrant colors to the lives of its villagers, especially the youth.

Children of Vanand playing in the renovated school gym.

“I’ve taken all the programs of COAF. The summer camp was the first one, and it was indeed the only summer activity in our village. We had two eventful weeks and also took a trip to Yerevan,” remembers Gohar. The Debate program has had the greatest impact on her so far, “I attended COAF’s Debate club for seven years, and it has made me confident at public speaking.”

The gym of Vanand village before the renovation.

The beautiful memories of the camp and the Debate club are mutual with other COAF Alumna Diana Khlghatyan. “We rarely had sports classes until COAF renovated our gym. Overall, there were no after-school programs or activities in our village until the advent of COAF,” she summarizes.

COAF Alumna Diana Khlghatyan from Vanand village.

Now kids younger than Gohar and Diana are running around the village and participating in our English Access, Drawing, Debate, and Judo programs.

As the years go by, our love and responsibility for every village we support grows. The relationship we have with our beneficiary communities is sometimes parental, sometimes friendly love. You accept it unconditionally as it is. You learn together from every big and small lesson. And you take care of it, no matter what.

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