Letter from Armenia – No 5 Peter Gay

Corrections and Anticipations

I told my Armenian colleagues that I was writing these letters for publication at home and they pestered me to share them with them. I am happy that they like the letters but offered some corrections.

Apparently Mount Ararat is not exactly in Armenia although it should be; its just over the Turkish border in traditional Armenian lands. That doesn’t stop the Armenians from claiming it and using it on all their flags and emblems.

Apparently in the old times, Turkey objected to Mount Ararat appearing on Armenian flags at the United Nations. The Armenian response was that the Moon appears on the Turkish flag and its not in Turkey, so what’s the problem?

I reported on the Fat Cat and other fat statues, I’m told these are extremely valuable sculptures done by a Colombian artist and financed by an Armenian who lives abroad. So, another plus for the Diaspora. I find it interesting that Armenia has a Ministry for the Diaspora whose role is to engage the Diaspora and seek their help in supporting Armenian development. A smart idea that has led to a lot of inward investment, advice and support.

Armenia suffered a lot over the global crisis, not because of bad bank investments but because Armenians who work abroad have had their work cut back and have not been able to send money back to support their families.

Today I visited a Day Care Centre for children with social problems, such as being in trouble with the police, anti social behaviour and family breakdown. I was impressed by the way the team worked with the families and use parent support including peer groups of parents to support each other.

They are really doing a fine job of helping children get back into the mainstream of education to improve their life chances. This could be a part of the changes in the South region.

Last week I met a member of the UNICEF team who has developed a model for integrated social services planning. I got the whole methodology today and I was greatly impressed. As someone who has worked to develop this methodology elsewhere, Artur has taken the whole thing to a higher level. If any reader wants to have access to Artur’s methodology,please contact me and I will see what I can do, with his permission.

In earlier letters I commented on the high professionalism of the people here. I mistook Artur for a top German expert but was quickly put right by my Armenian partner Kristine; he is Armenian of course.

Kristine herself is an international consultant who works a lot for World Vision and is off to consult in Mongolia in March and Bolivia in May. Kristine is a married lady with three children who is balancing a busy consultant’s life with family; I can only admire and be grateful I don’t have such a challenge.

She is at the top of her game and is invaluable as a colleague. When she read my first letter that said that transforming schools was a big ask, she said, its not a big ask at all for an Irish consultant! I think she meant its not a big ask for the two of us.

Tomorrow we head south to get in touch with the region where the transformation of schools will start. I will report in my next letter.
Peter Gay: Yerevan Febroary 2013


You can send your comments to Peter here – Peter Gay, Yerevan, February 2013

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