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 town of Ararat, they discover the joy of the inhabitants, despite their poverty. Since last year, war has been added to poverty, another element among the deluge of scourges that plague the region. However, hope is the order of the day for the proud inhabitants of Ararat, who watch over their land and welcome us there with unfailing generosity.
After having made a number of emergency donations, the volunteers want to help the Armenians of Ararat in a more permanent way. Although they had already donated animals to the most vulnerable families, they then had 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 where 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 difficulties that have arisen in recent years.
During their various visits to the town, the volunteers noticed the large number of children gathered around dull concrete blocks. After school, children and adults from the surrounding neighbourhoods play there together on the asphalt and dirt. Some of them have lost an older brother in the war. Many of them are growing up with the fear and anxiety of seeing their beloved city disappear.
So, the idea naturally arose to beautify this playground, to make it more joyful and attractive so that the children could share the greatest joy they deserve. The project was divided into two main activities: on the one hand, the development of a space to prepare the installation of the playground infrastructure; on the other hand, the painting of two large walls: a football cage on one wall and a colourful participatory fresco on the other. For this, the volunteers gathered and worked for three days, more motivated than ever to clean up, improve and decorate this space dedicated to the children.
Pickaxes, shovels and brushes in hand, they start 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 with astonishment as the Frenchmen in white t-shirts turn over the earth, move branches, fill bags with earth...
A few strokes of the pickaxe and a paintbrushes later, the children arrive, delighted to see such activity close to home. They rush to help 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 lay a layer of sand on which the playground arches, ordered or restored, 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 more than ever to give their best.
Supervising these dozens of energetic and willing children is not easy, but they are quickly assigned a role which they fulfil with great dedication. One paints green, another fetches a ladder, another brings water. Out of curiosity, the families quickly join us, 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 pleasure of tasting the many delicious dishes prepared in the neighboring buildings. Every evening, the Armenians invite us to share these delicious Armenian specialties with them, giving rise to very good moments of discovery, discussion, always in a good mood. 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 in which they can play and have fun in complete freedom. On the mural, painted in front of the large playground, a flag of their 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 with yellow, red or blue paint. A testimony to history that will never fade away.
Help us bring joy to all those children living in a war-torn country, who have lost a father or brother in the fighting and for whom play is a way to keep their childlike spirit alive.
The slide, the swings, the swing frame and the transport of the material cost 950€.
Clémence and Nathan, volunteers in Armenia.