Few weeks after lockdown, life is still going on in Armenia. The environmental issue and the society’s awareness regarding their way of life should be the main tackled topic according to Narine and Ghazar. They are both inhabitants of Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, close to the Turkish border from a few kilometers. They are telling with passion their own commitment in projects for the Youth.
Portrait written by Hélène Bourgon
Narine is 32 y.o and is experienced for 10 years in the field of international solidarity, especially regarding the non-formal education for young people. She is involved since she was 22 y.o to associative projects that highlight,develop the competences of young people and make them happy in their professional life.
Narine says – “ I like what I’m doing, I see their evolution, day by day, and they give me back the feeling of a good person who help them in their life to make their projects real. It’s useful and the non-formal sector enables an amazing freedom to realize concretely the results”. In Armenia and beyond the borders, in the middle of East Europe, the Youth Power association (co-founded by Narine) proposes some civic education workshops. They propose also some workshops of autonomisation towards work and professional projects but in groups working about gender and human rights issues as well.
One of the main cause defended by Narine and Ghazar is the Syrian Armenian people. They are around 20 000, who entered in the Armenian army since the beginning of the war in Syria. The young people need support to feel included and follow their studies.
“I realized how much it’s difficult for the Syrian families from Armenian background to live in our society while we are sharing the same culture. They are facing several problems, like the language one because they speak another Armenian dialect and they get trouble to find a job. The government should feel more concerned by this issue and plan help for them”. Aged of 24 y.o Ghazar is also involved in the Youth Power NGO. He is passionate by many things like the videos he uses during workshops or interviews with Syrian with Armenian background families. “ I started to film video for projects dedicated to young people. With the participants, we are dealing with different issues, like the autonomisation of women, the migration, the environment and I learn so much about the society I belong to.”
Narine and Ghazar are involved in an organization for citizenship education funded by Europe that support the young Syrian students. It gives them tools to be more integrated in the society, with the help of the education ministry. “The need more solutions, that’s why we implemented an integration project specially for them and young people born in Syria. In Armenia we talk many different dialects from East to West of the country. That’s why we implemented specific tongue courses for Syrian refugees in three high school to make them able to integrate the Armenian schools. “
The job done by the organizations that Narine and Ghazar belong to give recommendations to governments and territory collectivities. The purpose of this action is also to keep the rights of new inhabitants respected without forget that they share a common history and background.
Women rights in Armenia
“ On my side, I’m lucky with my family that always support me in the implementation of my projects. My sister for example has worked in business, a field mainly occupied by mens in our society. In the capital, there is a lot of career like ours. But for the main part of the cases in Armenia, women are always out of the society projects, out of the important status, especially in politics where we can count just a very small number of women working in the Parliament.” what Narine has noticed.
A point a view that Ghazar shares. He studies in second degree of Right Master dealing with the intra familial violences and with women right on the work market. “Lot of Armenians think that the woman’s role is to stay in the kitchen and that they are not allowed to decide anything.” The gender issues are rarely tackled in the Armenian society and it represents a real challenge for these two young committed people. Narine adds that “ We get a huge problem with the LGBT issue and the groups of young people we welcome. Because some of them are not always willing to talk about. That’s why we created tools to get an progressive approach of the topic. Sometimes some families think it’s bad to talk of this kind of topic and they forbid their children to participate to our workshops.”
In spite of this context, they succeed to make 35 groups of 18 to 35 young people who came to talk about men and women rights in the whole country. They participate in this way to the values progress deeply linked to the Armenian society.
The AJCM, an opportunity to discover the Mediterranean cultures.
“I never have had the chance to go in the Mediterranean space, to work on environmental issue with an international scale. It’s great to do it for two years in the frame of the AJCM.” – Narine says. “ Yes fact ! “ Ghazar adds. “It’s important to have the access to projects that happen in the Mediterranean for the Youth. Because we are sharing the same problematics especially about gender stereotypes or environmental worries. We must find solutions together”. For Narine, “indeed, all of that isn’t new, but the need to face the marine and air pollution, the waste mass and the lack of recycling is urgent that doesn’t exist in Armenia is urgent.
Plastic invades always our lifes.” The water problem, the river pollution and the mass deforestation are questions which will be tackled in an online conference vice Egyptian participants on June 6th during the AJCM festival that take place online this year; it was a disappointment for Narine who loves Marseille and had visited the city two times for the projects. “ I really like this french city where lives the biggest community of Armenian people. I would like visit Marseille again, but Morocco as well because one of my roommates comes from, Lebanon and Syria as well because our ancestors come from here.”
Ghazar is also singer in a music groupe, a youtuber, a blogger and a sportive man. He is looking forward to discover others countries : “After the coronavirus I would like to visit Morocco and Lebanon. It’s really interesting to interact with French people, Lebanese, Algerian and Egyptian people.” Narine appreciates the implemented format on the AJCM website. It enables us to know others countries, and describe ours to other participants. It’s important to take part in this exchange!” Regarding the world current context and the coronavirus, she says : “This pandemic should provoc a common wake up call, it’s a message that we have to keep in mind seriously. It tells us that we are doing things wrong and that we must change our behaviour and habits, taking care about our environment.” These both Armenian young people get one message : the environment has to be a priority for all the governments. This is what they told in their AJCM workshops.