“Aleppo” Organization recently participated in the workshop titled “From Humanitarian Responses to Durable Solutions”, which was organized jointly by the RA Ministry of Diaspora, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (Armenian Office), “Calouste Gulbenkian” Foundation and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU). The workshop was held on February 24, 2016, at the conference hall of the AGBU-Armenia. On this occasion “Arevelk” had the discussion with the “Aleppo” Organization’s Vice-president Mrs. Dzovig Baytarian.
-Mrs. Baytarian, What can you tell us about your participation? What were “Aleppo” organization’s proposals and suggestions at the mentioned workshop?
“Aleppo” Compatriotic Charitable Organization attended the workshop jointly with the Government bodies, non-governmental, international and Pan-Armenian other organizations that deal with Syrian-Armenian issues and their establishment in Armenia. “Aleppo” organization raised the issues, needs that face Syrian-Armenians, and the ultimate goal of preventing the Syrian-Armenians migration from Armenia, came up with the solutions for housing and employment.
Firstly, referring to the efforts focused on the resolution of housing issues, we suggested organizing Pan-Armenian Fundraising in support of Syrian-Armenians relocated to Armenia, in particular, to purchase affordable houses, apartments through the funds collected, and to provide to the most vulnerable Syrian-Armenian families based on contract of uncompensated use of property. (Purchased apartments will not be subject for a sale for 10 years).
In this regard, we informed that “Aleppo” Organization already maintains the data on the large number of apartments that cost 20,000 to 25,000 US dollars each, which can be purchased by relevant financial means and be provided to the most vulnerable Syrian-Armenians, based on the contract of temporary uncompensated use of immovable property.
It is pertinent to mention that “Aleppo” Organization with the support of individual donors already launched and implements “Host a Family” Project, similar to the recommendation made in the workshop. In the framework of the project, more than 20 Syrian-Armenian families are provided with apartments purchased by the support of individual donors. At the workshop, we also expressed our readiness to direct potential efforts towards organization of this Fundraising.
-Solving the housing issue is of vital importance for the Syrian-Armenian community. However, has the “Aleppo” Organization taken any steps towards employment issues of Syrian-Armenians in Armenia?
Of course. As presented in the workshop, “Aleppo” organization has already developed programs for establishment of workshops, and has applied for funding to sponsor benefactors and in near future the first phase of this program will be commenced. Implementation of these programs will provide jobs for many Syrian-Armenian families. However, it worth to note, that due to number of projects already implemented by “Aleppo” Organization so far, more than 70-80 Syrian-Armenian women have acquired knowledge and skills thus enabling them to grow and earn for a living. Furthermore, many Syrian-Armenians have access to job opportunities in the projects implemented by the Organization, as well as in other organization ensured by the “Aleppo” CCO’s network connections.
-We know that “Aleppo” Organization has also made recommendations regarding education. Could you please detail and introduce the education programs implemented by you, if there are any?
In the framework of the “Education” Working group of the workshop, Tork Dalalyan, the Founder of “Dzil” Art Center, who was taking part in the workshop on behalf of the “Aleppo” Organization, spoke about free Western Armenian language classes initiated by the joint efforst of “Aleppo” Organization and “Dzil” Art Center. Classes, undertaken for 6-17 aged children and youth began on February 7, 2016.
As we presented at the workshop, “Aleppo” Organization implemented this program to preserve the Western Armenian dialect for the new generation and to emphasize the importance of using and teaching of this dialect. However, the Executive body of “Aleppo” Organization is convinced that Saturday schools, despite their contribution in preserving the western Armenian culture, are not a permanent solution.
With this in mind, our representative proposed and stressed the importance of western Armenian everyday school in Armenia during the workshop. He noted that this everyday school will enable access to both Syrian-Armenians and local students. To make the program like this possible “Aleppo” Organization calls on all governmental and educational bodies to collaborate to make this vital program a reality.
In addition, aside from Western Armenian language classes, “Aleppo” Organization also conducts other educational programs. More than 12 Syrian-Armenian children and adults with special needs attend “Arevik-Armenia” center re-opened by “Aleppo” Organization and receive free education and care. “Aleppo” Organization provided the opportunity for more than 100 Syrian-Armenian youth to strengthen their knowledge and capacities to build up the better future in Armenia. Lastly, more than 145 young people are involved in the organization’s “Western Armenian, Arabic Language Learning” programs.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Finally, I would like to refer to one of the most important programs by “Aleppo” Organization, which is “Save a Life” program. Within this program, “Aleppo” organization with the support of donors provides one-way tickets to the most vulnerable Syrian-Armenian families to relocate Armenia. As a result of this program, over 165 Syrian-Armenians have been relocated so far. It should be noted, that the benefactors continue their pursuit in this direction with their investments and contributions, which makes it possible to continue this program to help Syrian-Armenians who wish to relocate and resettle in Armenia.
We are confident that with our joint efforts and partnership, we will achieve positive results and find solution to problems facing by Syrian-Armenian community in Armenia mentioned above, which in turn, would prevent emigration of Syrian-Armenians from Armenia and keep them in Armenia and support their settlement, which is the aim of this workshop as well.