Armenia, a small country in the Caucasus surrounded by hostile nations, is a huge nation in terms of its history, traditions, people and landscape.
The first Christian kingdom in the world, Armenia has survived invasions, massacres and even genocide for thousands of years.
Strongly attached to their national apostolic church, the Armenians of Armenia and the diaspora have kept the memory of their forefathers intact. In times of peace or war, the tomb of Armenian heroes, martyrs and saints has always been the heart of the living.
Whether after the Roman, Persian, Muslim, Mongolian, Ottoman invasions or after the terrible genocide committed by the Turks in 1915, the Armenians were able to rise up and build a nation proud of its Christian roots and stand up to the worst infamies and massacres.
With the war in Nagorno-Karabakh against Azerbaijan and its jihadist supporters from Syria and Turkey, the situation of Armenians has deteriorated dramatically: Thousands of displaced people, poverty linked to unemployment and high inflation exploding, the instability of a ceasefire not respected, the tension of a defeat on Armenian lands… so many issues and problems that Armenians live with on a daily basis and try to solve in the midst of shortages, freezing cold and slow or even non-existent international aid.
In this uncertain context, SOS Chrétiens d’Orient set up a permanent presence on the ground in October 2020 and urgently developed vital projects to support the Armenians.
In Yerevan, the capital, the main office coordinates activities and projects in the four corners of the country between Lake Sevan and Mount Ararat, in particular helping displaced people who find themselves without a roof over their heads, without food and without means. Regular donations of essential food and clothing ensure that families can feed themselves decently and cope with the vagaries of the weather.
In the north, in Gyumri, the country’s second largest city, volunteers are working in the shanty town that was created in the aftermath of the terrible earthquake of 1988. The homeless inhabitants found refuge in this jumble of metal sheets and planks and are still living there 33 years later… the help given to the schools in the shanty town and to the orphanages is of great help to the children who can benefit from French lessons, new furniture and new supplies. Regular donations are also vital in this slum as they allow families to feed themselves throughout the month.
In Goris, in the south, just across the border from Iran and on the border of the ceasefire corridor in Nagorno-Karabakh, the mission manages emergency humanitarian projects as well as social and economic projects that are essential in this landlocked region. The volunteers are divided between the French-speaking centre in Goris, where they teach French, and various agricultural projects, particularly wine-growing projects, in order to ensure a minimum income for the displaced people and to relaunch the economic activity of the region affected by the war.
The development and support of such projects, whether they are agricultural, handicraft, educational, medical or basic necessities, are all actions that allow us to concretely help the Armenians, who are impoverished and in mourning because of the war and its tragedy.
The transmission of the French language is just as important in a country that has been so close to France and its culture for several hundred years.
The future of young Armenians is therefore dependent on concrete economic, social or humanitarian aid, but also on the transmission of knowledge and know-how, thus enabling them to envisage a future in their own country and not a painful and heart-rending exodus to Europe, the United States or Australia…
Armenia is now at a turning point in its history, between disillusionment and a feeling of revenge due to defeat. Its future must not be reduced to a flight of its inhabitants and the renewal of the genocide of 1915.
Let’s help the Armenians to live at home, to build at home and to hope at home!