Arpeni is a small village in the northwestern part of Armenia. Like many other villages in this area, it was severally damaged by the earthquake of 1988. Families abandoned their homes. A new village was built. But the ruins of Old Arpeni* are still there; about 2km from a thriving village of nearly 400 people.
Typical of rural villages, Arpeni has challenges with their roads, lack of public transportation and engaging their youth. But Arpeni is not typical. Arpeni has hope.
Since 2011, WFD has been working with community and local government members to identify their problems and actively participate in their solutions. Through learning about Community Mobilization, Peace Education, Health Care, Agriculture, Computers, Strategic Planning and Project Design; this community has become stronger and more cohesive with an active group of volunteers.
In the fall of 2013, after the project proposal writing workshop, a group of volunteers wrote and submitted a proposal to raise funds to furnish the banquet room of their Culture House. They conducted a fundraising campaign throughout the village, to which 75% of the families contributed, and received a partial matching grant. Tables and benches were purchased with this money. Arpeni residents no longer have to drag these items from their homes to the Culture House for celebrations.
But, the story does not end here. Information about this project spread through WFD’s network. As a result, one of WFD’s Yerevan partners collected funds from his friends to purchase flatware and dishes for the Culture House. Just in time for New Year and Christmas, Arpeni volunteers shopped for serving bowls, glasses, dishes and flatware to the benefit of the entire community.
In their annual meeting, the community activists and local municipality staff told us that they have hope for a better future. They have demonstrated to themselves and their neighbors that by working together, they can improve their circumstances.
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*Come meet the people of Arpeni and tour the village. See what rural Armenian life is like, sample homemade foods and buy their handicraft creations. Join us at the Old Arpeni Village Festival on Saturday, June 28th, 2014. (Like us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/OldArpeniVillageFestival.)