In the shadow of the old grey buildings scattered across the valley, the volunteers immerse themselves in a hamlet of smiles and life. There, in the heart of the city of Ararat, they discover the joy of the inhabitants, despite their poverty. Since last year, war has been added to poverty, among the deluge of scourges that plague the region. Yet hope is the order of the day for the proud inhabitants of Ararat, who look after their land and welcome them with unfailing generosity.
After having made a number of emergency donations, the volunteers wanted to help the Armenians of Ararat in a more permanent way. Although they had already made it possible to donate animals to the most vulnerable families, it was then necessary to think of larger-scale projects. Urban planning, reconstruction and economic development are now the objectives to follow.
On the damaged walls of the town centre, the volunteers have drawn a sun in front of which the laughter of Armenian children shines. SOS Chrétiens d’Orient is working to create an ark of peace at the foot of Mount Ararat, in spite of the breakdowns and difficulties that have accumulated in recent years.
During their various visits, the volunteers were able to see the large number of children playing in the heart of the dull concrete blocks on the bitumen and earth. Some of them have lost an older brother in the war. Many of them grow up in fear and anxiety of seeing their beloved city disappear.
The idea naturally arose to beautify this play area, to make it more cheerful and attractive so that the children could share memorable moments in a safe environment.
The project was divided into two main activities: on the one hand, the development of a space in order to prepare the installation of the playground infrastructure; on the other hand, the painting of two large walls in order to create a football cage on one wall and a participative and colourful fresco on the other. For this, the volunteers gathered and mobilised over three days, more motivated than ever to clean up, improve and decorate this space dedicated to children.
Pickaxes, shovels and brushes in hand, they started the work. From early morning until the hottest hours of the day, they take advantage of the absence of the children, still at school, to make progress. From their windows and balconies, the inhabitants watch in amazement as the Frenchmen in white t-shirts turn over the earth, move branches, fill bags with earth…
A few strokes of the pickaxe and paintbrush later, the children arrive, delighted to see such activity close to home. They rush to help us with the remaining material, each in their own way. They do not skimp on their efforts. The strongest ones join the boys with great enthusiasm and help to level the ground in order to pour a layer of sand on which the play arches, ordered or rehabilitated, will be installed. Those with artistic talent meet the girls who have started painting the football pitch. A wave of smiles, laughter and mutual aid pours onto the site, motivating the volunteers to give their all.
Supervising these dozens of energetic and willing children is not the easiest thing in the world, but they are quickly assigned a role which they fulfil with great dedication.
One paints green, another fetches a ladder, another brings water. The families quickly join us out of curiosity, to encourage us or congratulate us.
Faithful to their great and benevolent tradition of hospitality, the inhabitants of Ararat do not let us spend a day without giving us the delicious pleasure of tasting the many dishes prepared in the nearby buildings. Thus, every evening, the Armenians offer us to share these delicious specialities with them.
They are touched by our presence, but also by our attachment to Armenia and our ineffable desire to help it.
The children of Ararat can now enjoy a haven of peace and beauty where they can play and have fun in complete freedom. On the mural, painted in front of the large playground, a flag of the country overlooks the mythical mountain. The sun now shines on the eternal snows of Mount Ararat, at the foot of which all these children will laugh for a long time to come. To anchor all these memories on the stone and conclude this construction site, each one affixes the mark of his hand coloured with yellow, red or blue paint. A testimony to history that will never fade away.
Help us to bring joy to all those children living in a country at war, who have lost a father or a brother in the fighting and for whom play is a way of keeping their childlike soul.
The slide, the swings, the swing frame and the transport of the material costs 950€.
Clémence & Nathan, volunteer in Armenia