AGBU Young Professionals’ “Go Green” Mission Promotes Economic Sustainability in Armenia
In recent years, the AGBU Young Professionals (YP) Network has focused its global initiatives in Armenia on environmentally-friendly green projects to help promote economic sustainability. Implemented this year, the Pan-YP Greenhouse Project for border village Barekamavan is the second collective initiative by the YP Network in Armenia, and builds on the success of the YPs’ first initiative, the construction of a new park in Khachik in 2010.
Funded and developed entirely by the YP Network, two greenhouses were constructed in Barekamavan this year to help promote economic self-sufficiency and sustainability. The following sixteen YP Groups and YP Partners took part by pooling their resources in one unified effort: YP Athens, YP Boston, YP Buenos Aires, YP Greater New York, YP Lebanon, YP London, YP Los Angeles, YP Marseille, YP Montréal, YP Northern California, YP Philadelphia, YP Sofia, YP Tehran, YP Toronto, and YP Yerevan, as well as AGBU partner, HAIK, in Frankfurt.
Many groups who backed the Khachik Park Project in 2010 returned to lend their support to the Barekamavan Greenhouse Project by organizing a number of special benefit events such as YP Toronto’s Jingle Jam, YP Northern California’s San Francisco Winter Gala Weekend, YP Los Angeles’ Networking Mixer, YP Marseille’s Classical Concert, and YP Buenos Aires’ Friend Day Mixer. Other groups such as YP Athens, YP Boston, YP Lebanon, YP London, YP Montréal, YP Sofia, and YP Tehran joined their peers to support this year’s pan-YP initiative for the very first time.
“As part of the global YP Network, YP London was proud to raise funds for such a unique and impactful project,” said YP London Coordinator Ara Yeromian. “Thanks to the support of our London community, who donated both online and during our fundraising events, we will make a difference in the lives of many families in Barekamavan. This was definitively the first of many future contributions to pan-YP initiatives.”
Barekamavan’s socio-economic development has long been hindered by steadily increasing emigration and ongoing tensions at the nearby border with Azerbaijan. Located in Armenia’s Tavush province, the village of 400 is home to a mere 33 youth, whereas, decades ago, it boasted over 300. Nevertheless, current residents refuse to abandon their homes and land on this strategically vital outpost.
Yet, the fertile land holds promise for the future—promise that AGBU supporters identified when they set out to develop greenhouses in Barekamavan in 2011-12. Seeing the potential for growth and encouraged by the positive impact of the Khachik Park Project, the YP Network embraced the greenhouse initiative in 2013. “It was amazing to see so many young Armenians from all over the world come together to help advance Barekamavan,” said YP Yerevan Coordinator Anna Aghajanian.
Overseeing the project in Barekamavan, YP Yerevan conducted a thorough needs assessment taking into account a range of factors including the families’ size, readiness, and ability to commit to the project before selecting the Abasyan and Vihrabyan families to participate. This spring, working alongside the families and agricultural specialists, YP Yerevan began to implement the project. The greenhouses were constructed on land adjacent to the families’ homes, since Barekamavan has no communal agricultural lands. Fruit trees, seedlings, and fertilizer were purchased and professional training seminars were delivered on farming, crop cultivation, and sales.
Now, the families, relishing in the first harvest of the season, are assured a steady source of future income, cementing their resolve to remain in Barekamavan rather than searching for opportunities elsewhere. “For years we felt that we were forgotten by everyone; we went months without seeing anyone from outside our village and received no support,” shared wife and mother Tamar Vihrabyan. “You haven’t just given us a greenhouse, you have given us, our village, and our country hope for the future. We don’t have to leave to find work to feed our families now; we can stay right here, protect our lands and watch our children grow in their ancestral homeland.”
For more information on the Pan-YP Greenhouse Project, visit www.agbu.org/ypsgogreen.
The AGBU Young Professionals is a growing network of groups and supporters around the world who are committed to preserving and promoting the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs for young Armenians between the ages of 22 to 40. For more information, visit www.agbu.org/yp.