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The Need

Since gaining its independence in 1991 with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, landlocked Armenia has endured a devastating earthquake, economic collapse, and war with neighboring Azerbaijan resulting in the ongoing closure of its eastern and western borders. Armenia’s geographic isolation, lack of employment opportunities, and dependence on the perilous Russian economy contribute to the large numbers of vulnerable youth in Armenia living in extreme poverty, single-parent homes, and state-run institutions.

 

Government institutions and many impoverished families are hard-pressed to provide more than just the basics – food, clothing, shelter and discipline.  Little assistance exists for the approximately one-third of Armenian families living in poverty. State-run facilities are ill-equipped to handle the serious issues their residents face, including coping with their family backgrounds; psychological concerns including abandonment, trust and self-esteem; and behavioral consequences of institutional life. The public schools routinely push these youths through the system without encouraging their education or development, failing to integrate them into Armenian society.  After these youths age out of the government institutions at 18, they are forced to leave, often with nowhere to go.  They, as well as many young people growing up in severely disadvantaged families, are unprepared for safe and successful independent life.

 

At-risk youth from such disadvantaged backgrounds lack the solid emotional foundations and educational resources they need for successful living.  Most have no educational or vocational goals, no vision for their futures, poor study skills, and little academic achievement.  Many exhibit serious behavioral issues and are coping with significant psychological challenges related to their family backgrounds and previous living situations. Others are victimized by addictive behaviors, prostitution, or domestic violence. They are highly susceptible to exploitation, and are at serious risk for their own lifelong social and psychological problems including homelessness, substance abuse, prostitution, domestic violence, teen pregnancy and suicide.

Imagine …

 

Growing up in an orphanage, foster care, or a family in need in Armenia…

 

You have no family – or your parents are too poor to keep you.

 

You turn 18 years of age and you must leave the orphanage or foster care.

 

You have no job skills, have little education, and no place to go.