Support for Social Projects - 2016

Spruced Up Facilities at Children’s Support Center
Yerevan, April 25, 2016 - The Children’s Support Center is a unique institution, run by the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR www.farusa.org). Located in the capital, it provides care for children in need, whether as a short-term shelter or for longer term foster care. Equipped with a hot line, its personnel can intervene in emergencies. The residential care it offers includes social work, medical treatment, psychological therapy, art therapy, social pedagogical support and police support.
Over the past two years the Mirak-Weissbach Foundation has contributed funds to help modernize the center, which meant in 2015 renovating the basement, so as to provide space for sports, dancing and other social activities, especially in winter months. This year, a donation went to renovating the sanitary facilities – bathrooms and shower stalls. On April 25, FAR Deputy Country Director Margarit Piliposyan accompanied Muriel Mirak-Weissbach to the Center, for a tour of the new facilities. In the spacious basement area workmen had dug up the floor, redone the foundation and then put in the new floor. Mira Antonyan, Executive Director of the Center, said the new gym had served its purpose well during the winter, for a variety of indoor activities, physical exercise and music. She pointed to a punching bag in one corner, and joked that it provided an appropriate – and safe – outlet for aggression that some troubled children may experience.
Upstairs the workmen were on the job, drilling holes for fixtures and laying tiles in the showers stalls and bathrooms targeted for renewal. As Ms. Antonyan explained, they had dug out the old fixtures completely and renewed the water pipes, before installing the new showers, sinks and toilets. The new facilities are very important, she said, not only for the obvious reason that hygiene is key to good health, but also for psychological reasons. When children come to the center, she said, she and her staff try to help them overcome whatever trauma has occurred, and building up self-esteem is a key part of the process. Therefore, she said, learning to keep an orderly room, to put clothes away neatly, and to have clean sanitary facilities, are important factors in developing self-respect. (One is reminded of the adage, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”)

Below: Bathrooms in the FAR Children's Support Center, before and after renovation



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Support for Social Projects - 2015

October 23, 2015 – Dancing in a Renovated Cellar
The Mirak-Weissbach Foundation provided funds for the renovation of the Children Support Center of FAR (Fund for Armenian Relief) in 2014. In addition to providing a safe, clean and warm area for sports during the winter, the cellar facilities can be used for other activities, for example, dance classes.


Support for Social Projects - 2014

In 2014 the Mirak-Weissbach-Foundation expanded its activities to include support for social projects. In the course of our Armenia visit from September 29 to October 9, 2014 we became acquainted with two new institutions which we have started supporting financially.

Mer Doon (“Our Home”)

1Mer Doon

Muriel Mirak-Weissbach and residents of the home watch a video on “Mer Doon”

This Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) was founded in Armenia in January 2005 by Julie Ashekyan from the USA. Its purpose is to provide assistance to young women who were orphans upon leaving the orphanage or foster homes when reaching the age of 18. It aims to assist them in finding meaningful employment and an independent existence. There are currently eleven young women in a new, large two-storey house with garden, in a kind of community residence in Etchmiatsin. They take care of running the household, cooking, cleaning, etc., and receive help in looking for further education, whether in university studies or in professional training. In the residence itself, they receive classes in homemaking, foreign languages, computer sciences, psychology, religion and ethics.
Mer Doon covers all expenses for food, clothing, tuition, medical needs and so forth. And in the event that a girl marries, Mer Doon also provides financial assistance.

links_thumb[6]-1 Link to the website www.mer-doon.com

big_play Link to Mer Doon Video

The Mirak-Weissbach Foundation made a donation in November 2014 earmarked for a new program at Mer Doon. The Internship and Job training Program is designed to help the women find internships on a part time or full time basis, to prepare them for the internships, cover expenses and tuition during study and provide support during their training.
Mer Doon

The beautiful new home for young women "Mer Doon" in Etchmiatzin

Child Support Center Foundation


The inner court of the "child protection center" rebuilt from a former police prison. In the background is the building housing the youngest of the children cared for.

Since its founding in 2000, this center has transformed the way Armenia cares for its neglected and abandoned youth. Initiated and led by the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) the center offers protection to children abandoned, abused, addicted to alcohol and drugs, with behavioral problems, in conflict with the law and affected by conflicts and disasters. It offers a “safe haven” to children and youth in the age between 3 and 18 years with a multifaceted program of help and counseling. The aim of the program is to reunite the children with their own families or alternatively to place them in foster families. The center runs a “Child Protection Hotline” operating across the country for emergency assistance for children and coordinates needed counseling, information and referrals to other institutions involved in child protection work.
This center is the only one of its type in Armenia as a whole and so far also in the entire former Soviet Union. The complex which hosts the institution is a former police prison, totally reconstructed and newly equipped. One part hosts the younger children who get professional medical, pedagogical and psychological care. The main building consists of offices, rooms for the older youth, classrooms, a media room equipped with computers and rooms for art, painting, sculpting etc. In the cellar there are facilities for sports, including a fitness centre. The outdoor area holds a playground for children, a basketball field and a beautifully arranged garden with fruit trees, flowerbeds and vegetable patches.

links: http://armenianchildren.org            www.farusa.org

The Mirak-Weissbach Foundation made a donation inNovember 2014 earmarked for the renovation of the floor in the cellar, especially in the gym area, so that children will be able to take part in sports activities there during the winter months.


Left: Children‘s Support Center Foundation gym floor – October 2014.
Right: Children‘s Support Center Foundation gym floor – December 2014.


Dancing children.

Yervandashat’s New Gym
On the Armenian border to Turkey is the small village of Yervandashat, about 30 kilometers from the Sardarapat memorial and 45 kilometers from Armavir. The population is made up of about 200 households, somewhere from 800 to 1000 inhabitants. Located at the junction of the Arax and Akhurian rivers, where the rich soil yields bountiful fruits, the village is a historical site: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yervandashat._Armenia).
Like many other border areas, it has limited social infrastructure. In addition to a medical post and a cultural center, there is a school providing instruction for students from the 1st to 9th grades. There is no kindergarten or pre-school nursery for children under the age of 6.
The high school was built back in 1987, its roof was renovated in 2004 and new windows and doors were installed in 2010. The principal reports that the physical education teacher works 21 hours a week with all the students, in groups that have 3 hours a week of gym classes. The students do gymnastics and enjoy team games, basketball, football, volleyball and handball. Often they play teams from other villages, and organize “sportlandia” type events. In addition to sports, the gym hosts other activities, like dancing competitions, holiday celebrations, etc.
The gym was not in good shape in 2016 and the Fund for Armenian relief (FAR) was eager to find supporters to help renovate it completely. The Mirak-Weissbach Foundation joined the effort, contributing €7,500 which covered costs of renovation, sports equipment (nets, balls, etc.), and sports uniforms for the football team. Work began in June and was completed by the end of August in time for the new school year. And in April 2017, we went to Yervandashat, and had a chance to see the students making good use of their new gym – and in their bright new uniforms.
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