Forum on “Rural Community Development” organized by “Women for Development” NGO took place in Gyumri on 31 January. The forum pursued several goals:
– Summarize and publicize the projects implemented by WFD NGO in the 4 beneficiary communities from 2014-2016,
– Discuss all possible ways of further collaboration between RA Shirak marz administration and Sarapat community cluster,
– Share the best practices gained in rural community development with partner organizations,
– Announce the 4th phase of small grant calls
Greeting the participants, WFD NGO president Gohar Markosyan touched upon the main approaches of work with communities; i. e. principles the organization is guided by, lessons learnt and the changes registered. “During 8 and more years of rural community development activities the NGO has been guided by only one principle – not for the community, but with the community”. The organization has never carried out any activity in the community on its own but has consistently worked with various community groups until latter realized and highlighted the implementation of any project in their community.
No activity carried out by non-governmental organizations can result in a bigger positive result and changes in the community than the social issues solved with the support of the NGO. Nonetheless, the main achievement of the organization is considered the environmental change and the formation of the new culture. Participatory discussion of the issues most bothering the community, making of participatory decisions and their submission to local self-governing bodies are the first steps of the newly created culture”, said G. Markosyan in her speech. Project coordinator Armine Shiroyan presented a more detailed report of the social projects and business development related projects especially highlighting promotion of the projects directed to women entrepreneurship development. She said, “Experience gained from previous projects came to prove that women from rural communities have big potential and are ready to overcome the existing stereotypes and start their small businesses upon gaining necessary knowledge and skills. This leaves its positive effect not only on separate women, their families and the social-economic development of the communities, but serves as a positive example for the others as well”. Representatives from “Cross of Armenian Unity”, “Armenian Caritas”, “Shen” “Shirak Competitiveness Centre”, “Biosophia” organizations and Basen community mayor also shared their experience and best practices with the participants of the forum. As a principal formula for success, all the speakers in the first place mentioned the importance to love the community like one’s own family, not govern it, but lead it, work equally with the rest, be initiative and never look forward to get help from someone. “Community is our home, we must love and take care of our community, respect our co-villagers. Their trust and appraisal is much more than any title or position. This is the true guarantee of success in Basen community and the whole country talks about it today”, said Basen community mayor Hamlet Petrosyan.
Representatives from Shirak marz administration, WFD NGO partner organizations, director of Gyumri Territorial Employment Center of State Employment Agency, who were also present, highlighted the idea of inviting such a forum and highly appreciated the work carried out by the NGO in the communities of Shirak marz. “Extensive work has been done in the beneficiary communities, positive changes are obvious and we are ready to collaborate in future as well and bring our support to community development projects as much as possible”, said Artur Grigoryan-deputy head of local self-government administration of RA Shirak marz administration
The second part of the forum passed in a more working atmosphere. It was devoted to the SWOT analysis of the communities, as well as to the announcement of the 4th phase of small grant calls by WFD NGO. As a result, community active groups present at the forum were able to analyze and present the existing issues to the participants of the forum, as well as to design primary concepts of the grant project. Based on the results of the analysis 3-year strategic plans for the marz’s for communities will be developed.