Coalition Building Program: Site Visits to Syunik Based NGOs

Armenian Assembly of America
1140 19th Street, NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-393-3434
Fax: 202-638-4904
Email: [email protected]


October 23, 2008
Contact: Michael A Zachariades
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (202) 393-3434


Yerevan, Armenia – The League of Women Voters (LWV), the Armenian
Assembly of America (Assembly) and the NGO Center, Civil Society
Development Organization (NGOC) are pleased to announce the start of a
Coalition Building education program for local non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) in southern Armenia on September 22, in the city of
Yeghegnadzor. At the end of each training week the training team will
conduct site visits to the offices of the participating NGOs. The site
visits are part of the commitments agreed to by the participating NGOs
to bring the current training to their boards and membership, thereby
expanding the reach and impact of the program.

The first site visit was made to two Syunik-based NGOs. On Thursday,
September 26, Zaida Arguedas and Sarah Diefendorf, League members and
also trainers of the Coaching NGOs in Armenia program, traveled to Kapan
for a site visit. The goal of the site visit was to meet with the
leaders of the two NGOs in the Syunik region: the Women’s Association of
Kapan Region and Syunik Disabled People Support Organization, Voghji.

On Friday, September 27, Diefendorf and Arguedas were hosted by Susanna
Martiosyan, co-director and program manager, and by Svetlana Gevorgyan,
co-director, of the Women’s Association of Kapan Region. Two board
members were also in attendance. Additionally, Kamo Davtyan and Meline
Astsatryan, the two participants from the Syunik Disabled People Support
Organization, Voghji, were also part of this meeting.

The mission of the Women’s Association of Kapan is to support the
inclusion of women in the public, political, economic and social
spheres, to provide gender balance in the region and to establish
stronger ties with other NGOs in the region. The Women’s Association of
Kapan is the largest women’s organization in the Syunik region. The
municipality of Kapan donates the office space occupied by the Women’s
Association, while a large percentage of their funding is from
international donors.

Both Martiosyan and Gevorgyan received very positive feedback on the
training, expressed by their two participants, Program Manager Arine
Harutyunyan and Coordinator Varduhie Sahakyan.
Harutyunyan and Sahakyan are already planning to share with their
members the topics they have identified as of key importance for their
organization. Harutyunyan, who has several years of experience,
indicated that "what we are learning are things that we should know, but
that for the first time are being presented to us in a different way and
in an interactive way."

The meeting with the Syunik Disabled People Support Organization,
Voghji, took place immediately afterwards. The goals and objectives of
Voghji are to support the rights of persons with disabilities, to
facilitate their integration into society, to create employment
opportunities, and to propose and support legislative initiatives in
support of the disabled. Voghji president, Kamo Davtyan and Meline
Astsatryan, are the two participants in Coaching NGOs in Armenia.

Davtyan is a disabled person himself with amazing drive and charisma.
Voghji currently has two paid employees and 20 unpaid volunteers and is
entirely funded by Kapan’s business community. One recent achievement
is a decree enacted by the mayor of Kapan that states "no new
construction will be approved in Kapan if it does not include plans for
ramps for the disabled." The challenge for Davtyan’s NGO is to ensure
that this decree is properly enforced. Davtyan’s and Astsatryan stated
that the Coaching NGOs in Armenia program has been "more positive that
you can imagine."

Their short term plans include refurbishing an old house that will be a
center for disabled people, similar to a one stop shop for services,
information, and other activities. Midterm plans include obtaining a
car to travel from village to village and acquiring technical support on
issues relating to legislation and best practices. LWV has offered to
connect Voghji with U.S. NGOs working with disabled populations.

During this visit, Davtyan informed us that he submitted his application
to run for Councilor of Kajaran, in the October 12 elections.

The success of the project is also dependent on the support of its
partners. The National Democratic Institute (NDI) is one of the partners
of the project whose support and assistance was invaluable during the
training. Special thanks are extended to NDI Yeghegnadzor branch for
sharing their office, supplies and equipment.

This project is made possible through the collective efforts of the
League of Women Voters of the United States, the Armenian Assembly of
America and the NGO Center Civil Society Development NGO. Funding for
this project has been provided in the form of a grant to the League of
Women Voters by private donors and Assembly Trustees Charles Talanian
and Peter Vosbikian.

The NGOC was established in 1994, as a project of the Armenian Assembly
of America to promote democracy through civil society development. In
2005, it registered as a separate, local entity in Armenia. Targeting
NGOs, community based organizations (CBOs), civic action groups (CAGs)
and other elements of civil society, the NGO Center continues to help
them in their efforts to develop a strong NGO sector in Armenia.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization,
encourages informed and active participation in government, works to
increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences
public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League
is open to men and women of all ages. With more than 88 years of
experience and 850 local and state affiliates, the League is one of
America’s most trusted grassroots organizations.

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly is the largest
Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding
and awareness of Armenian issues. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt
membership organization.


NR # 2008-076

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS