by Mari Chakryan, Local Correspondent from Armenia
Tatevik is 16 and she lives in a small town in the South of Armenia. She is a founding member of the Goris Youth Initiative Center which was established last year to bring young people together for community development. As a volunteer she is also involved in the Goris Info-house and Press Club. In her opinion, mainly due to the efforts of public organizations, opportunities for young people are growing in the community: programs were developed, submitted to the administration of the community, most of which were approved.
“We have also taken environmental steps urging community residents to keep the city clean and sort the garbage. We are currently preparing a surprise for Volunteers Day to show how important volunteering is to the community”, she said.
Milena also lives in Goris, she is a nurse and is currently studying pharmacy. She is concerned that the youth of the community are leaving for the capital to study and for the most part do not return. She has quite recently been involved in youth activities.
“Events are held in the community but they are rarely for young people. You see the same faces and the same things. So as soon as I saw the announcement that interviewers are needed for monitoring, I immediately expressed a desire to participate in that training”,- Milena said in a conversation with us. “I learned not only the monitoring tools but also the skills to talk to people, especially to those who cannot adequately answer your questions. It was a very good team and I made good friends”.
The courses, which brought together these girls and many other active youth in Goris, were organized by the “Partnership and Training” NGO.
I have also spoken to Artashes Torozyan, President of the organization. He shared his experience in this field. I have learnt that youth policy for communities are just starting to be implemented in Armenia and Goris is one of the leaders in this regard. “Vanadzor was selected as a youth city this year, but it does not yet have a complete document”,- Mr. Torozyan gave an example. Involving youth from the community, the organization has developed a clearly planned youth policy strategy on the example of Goris, that identifies problems and marks solutions. “This document includes concrete practical steps for young people to participate in local governance”,- my interviewer pointed out. At the initial stage, the NGO trained young people, identified and mapped issues of concern to young people through joint focus group discussions.
“Young people find that they do not participate in community life, opportunities for cultural, sports and non-formal education are missing, young people need professional guidance, the infrastructure is not in good condition”,- he mentioned.
The NGO has also introduced youth policy implementation mechanisms. As I have learned from Mr. Torozyan, a Youth Initiatives Center has been set up, and the community administration has allocated facilities where young people gather to discuss their concerns. On the other hand, the NGO is constantly finding additional resources and funds enabling both capacity building and the implementation of ideas. For example, the best projects for business startups in tourism are currently being funded.
Works are being carried out throughout the region. Monitoring is carried out in 4 consolidated communities of Syunik Region, monitoring groups have been formed of young people already possessing the monitoring and data analysis tools.
As a final stage a youth forum was held on November 27 which gathered all stakeholders, including guests from youth organizations from other regions, who shared their experience, and discussed how to implement youth policy in communities It is planned to make the forum annual.
“I am sure, we – the active youth, can make changes in our community”,- says the youngest activist Tatevik.
This article was produced by Mari Chakryan, the Project’s local correspondent and EaP Civil Society Fellow from Armenia in the framework of the EU-funded ‘Eastern Partnership Civil Society Facility – Regional Actions’ Project. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Mari Chakryan and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the Project
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