Building a better world through restoration of Biblical values

Extreme poverty and the absence of adequate social safety systems have led to the deterioration of values within thousands of Armenian families.Family disintegration often leads to child abandonment and a higher number of underprivileged children whose rights are routinely violated inside and outside their families. One way that World Vision is ensuring a loving atmosphere for child development is by engaging the church in the restoration of family values and the creation of faithful, patient, gentle attitudes within families.

“With all humility and gentleness; with patience, bearing with one another in love,” Ephesians 4:2.

 In her mid-thirties, Tatevik has already lost most of her teeth and she carries the burden of multiple health disorders. Nevertheless, she is on her feet all day, caring for the people in her household and is always patient and tender when it comes to caring for her children and family.

 “Every day, I wake up at 5 a.m. I milk our cow, [then] I go to the neighbour’s [house] to milk their cow, as they pay me a small amount for the job. I come back home, prepare food and then take care of children’s clothes they need to put on to go to school. Then [I] go to the yard to start cultivating the land,” explains Tatevik, the mother of four children: Milena, 14; Varazdat, 9; Heghine, 7, and Alvard, 3.

“When one is poor, one has to cope” 

“When one is poor, one has to cope,” says Tatevik. “We cope with poverty in different ways, [the] children wear each other’s clothes and shoes, and we buy meat and fresh vegetables only for special occasions. Our children do not attend extra-curricular classes, [even though] I know how much Heghine and Alvard dream of dancing class; [how much] Varazdat, my boy, dreams of boxing class, and  [how much] my eldest daughter, Meline, wants to learn design,” she explains.

 The family doesn’t even have their own house to live in. They live in one of their neighbour’s old dilapidated houses, which was abandoned by the owner, who generously allows Tatevik’s family to occupy the building.

 This dark and dirty building is home to four beautiful children, their hard-working mother and father. “For years our only income was my husband’s earnings from seasonal jobs in Russia,” explains Tatevik. “Early in spring, Artak [Tatevik’s husband, 40] would leave for Russia and come back late in autumn. The money he would bring with him was enough to feed, clothe and pay for children’s school supplies,” she remembers.

 Today, Tatevik’s husband, Artak, is unable to find a job in Russia or Armenia, placing the burden to provide for the family squarely on Tatevik’s shoulders.

 World Vision’s Child Sponsorship programme brings hope and light to this family. All of the children are sponsored.

 In addition to the life-saving support the family receives through the programme, thanks to generous gifts from the sponsors, they were also able to buy: a cow, a bread-baking oven, clothes and shoes for the children.

Tatevik speaks about the hope and love the sponsorship programme has brought her family. “When I realized that the sponsors have never met my children, but they help us, they care about the children, regularly send letters to them, and tell them about their love and care, I realized that love is what [keeps us alive]. If there is no love, there is no life,” says Tatevik.

“When I wake up in the morning, I don’t know how to feed my children. But, I pray to God to instil patience and love in my family; the rest we will do. We will work. We will save. We will cope” 

“The children’s sponsors are not rich people, and this is what inspired me. They are ordinary people with their own children and families, and dozens of problems and needs of their own yet they name us as part of their families. This unconditional love and care opened a new page for our family. [Through their examples], we understood that money is not what should matter, but care, patience and love towards each other,” says Tatevik.

 Celebrating families that celebrate the Kingdom of God

The collapse of the Soviet Union is not just a political reality; it drastically affected the ordinary lives of millions of families across the region. Extreme poverty and the absence of adequate social safety systems have led to the deterioration of values within thousands of Armenian families. Family disintegration has led to child abandonment and a higher number of underprivileged children whose rights are routinely violated inside and outside of their families, according to child protection specialists.

To ensure a decent social, educational and healthy development for a child is a difficult task and often a significant burden for many families.

One way that World Vision is ensuring a loving atmosphere for child development is by engaging the church in the restoration of family values and the creation of faithful, patient, gentle attitudes within families, to ensure a loving atmosphere, conducive for the development of children in the country.  

Throughout the centuries, Armenia maintained its Christian identity, and preserved its Christian traditions and culture. During the Soviet period, however, several generations of Armenians grew up with a significant lack of spiritual education. Today, there are only 220 priests to serve the 900 communities of Armenia.

Father Paren serves 19 communities and their more than 8,000 residents in the Shirak Region.

“I travel a lot and witness so much deprivation and trouble. I know people need my service; they call me to ask for support, for guidance, for advice. In every community I enter, I try to work for the benefit of the children and the families. I know that every child mirrors his or her family. My work starts with the children,” explains Father Paren.

“The community clergymen know the people, and the communities. Their word is trusted in the communities, their involvement can be operational,” says Arusyak Terchanyan, World Vision Armenia’s Faith and Development coordinator.

Recently, World Vision initiated a four-day seminar to bring the community clergymen together and discuss the opportunities for their involvement into the restitution of strong family relationships and values in Armenia’s communities. The seminar also involved the community social workers, as World Vision considers it necessary to have the joint efforts of these two sides to produce a have a tangible result.

During the seminar, 20 clergymen from the areas World Vision is active in Armenia and the 20 social workers from the same areas received practical knowledge to be able to analyze the role of the family in children’s spiritual development and wellbeing as well as understand factors that ensure the unity of the family in order to find practical ways to support families.

“Every clergyman understands the importance of establishing strong and caring families in the communities. Through the seminar, we equipped them with knowledge and tools on how they can support thousands of families across the country to ensure [the creation of] secure and tolerant environments for children’s wellbeing and upbringing,” adds Arusyak.

"with so much burden on their shoulders, and so much deprivation and hard work, thousands of families live in poverty, hardly able to make ends meet”

“The seminar taught how clergymen can converse with the families and understand their concerns and problems in order to be able to assist them in their every day lives,” says Father Paren.

“The need is everywhere,” explains Father Paren as to why families need spiritual guidance. “Men migrant to Russia to earn money, everything thus lays on the women’s shoulders: land cultivation, the breeding of the animals, the household duties, the care for and upbringing of children. Still, with so much burden on their shoulders, and so much deprivation and hard work, thousands of families live in poverty, hardly able to make ends meet.”

“God teaches us to ‘Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need’. This is what we all lack, and this is where we need to direct our efforts to,” he adds.