Armenia - For World Vision Armenia, the restitution and growth of Christian values among the children of Armenia is a precious task. World Vision partners with the Armenian Church to create a fruitful learning environment for the Sunday Schools across the country, where every child’s needs are comprehended and addressed, ensuring a fruitful environment for child’s growth and wellbeing.
"Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit” Matthew 12:33
For 16 World Vision has supported the Armenian Apostolic church by gathering Sunday school teachers across the country and providing them training to increase their capacity to provide quality Christian education to children. This year’s three-day workshop for some 120 Sunday school teachers, not only brought all the teachers of Armenia together but helped them reconsider their role as Sunday school teachers.
Currently, there are 115 Sunday schools across the country to serve more than 8,000 children in Armenia. “World Vision has been working closely with 49 Sunday schools in Armenia,” says Karine Harutyunyan, World Vision Armenia Faith & Development Adviser. “But reaching out to all the Sunday school teachers across the country can amplify the impact of our programming,” she adds.
“Together with the Armenian Church, World Vision considers that these teachers can take on a new role – to safeguard the well-being of children in their community and intervene when necessary."
“Sunday school teachers are trusted and respected people in the communities,” says Karine. “Together with the Armenian Church, World Vision considers that these teachers can take on a new role – to safeguard the well-being of children in their community and intervene when necessary."
“In many areas of Armenia one priest often serves several communities, and the presence of a well-equipped teacher will widely support families and the community to improve child well–being, because the Sunday school teachers will be acting as child rights advocates,” she continues.
The workshop was designed to equip the Sunday school teachers with practical and theoretical knowledge about child rights and protection, as well as explain the current concerns and challenges in the child protection sector in Armenia, so that they are prepared to address the child protection issues when encountered.
Sunday schools in Armenia, operate free of charge and offer a variety of opportunities to community children, including preparation of their school classes, as well as arts and crafts classes, computer literacy, education of foreign languages and sports. In some of the Sunday schools opportunities are present for the parents as well to learn new skills and earn some money, including cooking, sewing and handiwork.
“When we open our hearts to them, they open-up theirs to us, and the hearts of the kids is so clean and pure - a fertile soil to plant a tree and make its fruit good,”
Hasmik Setaghyan treasures her role as a Sunday school teacher for Gavar Town, in the Gegharkunik Region of Armenia. “Sunday school teachers can play a very special role in kids’ lives,” she says. “When we open our hearts to them, they open-up theirs to us, and the hearts of the kids is so clean and pure - a fertile soil to plant a tree and make its fruit good,” says Hasmik.
“Our Sunday school is not a formal educational facility,” explains Hasmik. “The children not only gain knowledge about the Bible, the Church traditions and religious history, it is also a place where children find friends, learn arts and crafts, receive life skills and gain knowledge on topics and subjects that interest them. It is a second home for them, where they can share their concerns, they can play and laugh, and through personal samples of our pastor, their elder friends and teachers, learn the word of God,” she continues.
“Sunday school is my beloved place,” says Piruza, 11, one of the Sunday school students. “I come here right after classes. Even when I don’t have a class that day, I come to meet Mrs. Hasmik, or spend time with my friends. This is a place when we feel free and happy,” she continues.
Gavar Sunday School offers a wide variety of opportunities for children and parents. “Our children can learn dancing, singing, painting, wood-processing and handiworks. They can participate in computer classes or learn foreign languages, while their mothers learn cooking and handiworks to earn some money,” says Hasmik.
After participating to the workshop organized by World Vision and the Armenian Apostolic Church, Hasmik is happy she is now more prepared to understand children’s rights and how these rights might be violated. “I have always been open to kids, and they can always trust me when they have an issue at school, or at home. But, with the information I gained during the workshop, I feel myself more prepared to address children’s needs,” says Hasmik.