Armenia Visit 2017:

This year 2017 we visited Armenia from April 4-12. Flying to Yerevan, we also went to Gyumri, Yervandashat and Geghashen. The schedule was packed with meetings to visit completed projects and see old friends. Then we also identified some new projects and made new acquaintances. Our first priority was to see the progress made in projects the foundation has supported in the past years.

In Yervandashat, a small village with 1000 inhabitants near the Turkish border, we saw that the gym in the only school there had been fully renovated and was already being used by students and villagers. The village lies on the border river Arax in a picturesque setting at the foot of an ancient prehistoric fortress. Over the past couple of years, apricots and other fruits have been grown and dried in the region. The business, which has been supported by the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR), provides employment for inhabitants and seasonal workers.
2 Jervandaschat1 Jervandaschat
Here is what a physical education class looks like in the renovated gym in Yervandashat. The children are doing their gymnastics with enthusiasm, as was clear in the noise level…

In the small village of Gusanagiuch, outside Gyumri, we were able to watch school personnel prepare an art exhibition that in the afternoon would be opened by the mayor and attended by teachers, parents and students. The exhibition featured works produced by the students of Hakub Hovhanisyan in his painting class. The Mirak-Weissbach Foundation had supported the painting classes with a donation.

3 Gusanagiuch - Ausstellung
Artist Hakub Hovhanisyan prepares the exhibition of his students‘ paintings.

At the Music School Nr. 6 in Gyumri we had the opportunity to attend a concert given by students from another school in Gyumri that happened to be scheduled for that day. The Blüthner grand piano, which the Mirak-Weissbach Foundation had donated, was played again and again.
4 Konzert in Gjumri
Performance on the Blüthner piano during the concert.

In Geghashen, a small village north of Yerevan, we were the guests of honor at a memorable concert and recitation event at the local music school. Last year the Foundation donated funds for the purchase of a used grand piano. The event was remarkable, among other things for the fact that the students recited poems from a new anthology of 25 contemporary Armenian poets, and recited in both the original Armenian and the German translation. The poetry volume, Armeniens Herz: Gedicht ... und sonst nichts, was published in March; the Armenian poetess Agapi Mkrtchian, who lives and teaches in Wiesbaden, collaborated with Helmuth R. Malonek to produce the translations. Agapi Mkrtchian comes from Geghashen originally and her parents had taught at this school.
5 Mariam mit Flügel
Music teacher Mariam Kazaryan and the grand piano at her music school, which was donated by the Mirak-Weissbach Foundation last year. It stands on a large stage in the municipal hall, right next to the school.

6 Geghaschen Rezitation
Agapi Mkrtchian introduces the recitation of her poetry collection in Armenian and German.

New Projects:
On April 6, 2017 we visited School N2 in Parakar, a small town outside Yerevans on the road to the airport. The rector and faculty members gave us a tour of this special state school for children and youngsters with disabilities. In addition to its special facilities for weaving, as well as gardening and botanical studies, the school is to introduce a cooking class, where students can learn to cook and provide for themselves. To make this possible, a room which is currently being used as a place for naps has to be adapted and furnished as a teaching kitchen and dining area. The project is being carried out by the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR), and following our return to Germany, we decided to provide a donation from the Mirak-Weissbach Foundation.
7 Führung durch die Sonderschule in Parakar
The Weissbachs during the tour of the special school in Parakar. In the center are Margaret Piliposyan of FAR and the director of the school.

8 neue Küche
In this room the new teaching kitchen is going to be built. There is quite a lot of work to do.

On April 5, 2017 we went to My Way, a day center for children and young adults with autism. The four mothers who, with great energy, determination and passion, established the center, showed us the very well equipped teaching and therapy rooms. Here the children and youngsters receive therapy through clay modelling, painting, music, language classes, sports and games. The center is the only one of its kind, specifically designed to help children with autism, in the Transcaucasus. The staff are highly qualified and the center now receives state support; the First Lady Rita Sargsyan is its patron. Nonetheless, the financial means available are not sufficient. There is a long waiting list of families with autistic children who want to come tot he center, and new space is urgently needed. The center also needs donations to raise the salaries of the qualified, but low paid therapists and specialists. For this purpose, the Mirak-Weissbach Foundation has decided to contribute €5000. For a detailed article on the My Way center, see News.

9 my way
In the various therapeutical activites at the My Way center for children with autism, specialists provide individual care in almost all activities.

This year, as in the past, we were able to meet singer Lusine Arakelyan again. At the end of 2016 she completed a successful concert tour through several cities in Poland, and is scheduled to return there at the end of this year. Lusine is currently studying German very seriously, because she intends to continue her education by attending an opera studio in Berlin in September. The Mirak-Weissbach Foundation is covering her travel expenses as well as tuition for the course.
10 Lusine Arakelyan, Muriel Mirak-Weißbach
Lusine Arakelyan and Muriel Mirak-Weissbach in front of the opera house in Yerevan. The soprano will continue her education in September in Berlin, by attending the opera studio, and is already learning German.

During our meeting with Professor Mher Navoyan und Rector Shahen Shahinyan at the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory on April 5, 2017, we brought up the subject of the estate of the Wiesbaden Kurhaus Orchestra which has been disbanded. It is currently in the possession of --- Rekeszus, the solo clarinetist of the Wiesbaden Staatstheaters. As Mr. Rekeszus is retiring at the end of 2017, he would like to donate the estate to the conservatory in Yerevan. The estate consists of numerous CDs, books on music history, and of course musical scores. The Conservatory is happy to receive the materials, which will be of great use for teachers and students.

11 Scheidt-Archiv im Kons.
Last year the Mirak-Weissbach Foundation received a donation from singer Sabine Meerwein, the longterm companion of the late conductor and pianist from Wiesbaden, Bernd Scheidt. Numerous musical scores from his estate have already found their place of honor in the large musical library at the Yerevan Conservatory.