After the devastating earthquake near Spitak in Armenia in 1988, SOS Children arrived to deliver emergency relief. We have remained in Kotayk, providing support to residents who are in poverty.
Kotayk is 15km from the Armenian capital of Yerevan. Kotayk was hit hard by the earthquake in 1988, though not completely destroyed like the town at the epicentre, Spitak.
High unemployment affects the most vulnerable
Armenia as a whole is very poor with unemployment and underemployment problems leaving around 24% of families living on less than $2.70 a day. 3% of children are in families earning less than $1.80 a day. Many families are only able to survive thanks to remittances from family members who work abroad.
The Spitak earthquake hit families in the area very hard. Local authorities could not cope and invited SOS Children to come in to provide relief. With the economic and social problems faced by families in the country, we remained in Kotayk.
Nutrition impacts on the development of children
Children not able to get the right nutrition due to extreme poverty are unable to develop as well intellectually as those who can eat well. Many families in Armenia are large with more than two children, meaning what money comes in has to be shared around more thinly.
Other at risk children are those with single mothers who have to both work and look after their kids. Disabled children are not always given the support they need too. Because Armenia as a whole is poor, the authorities just don't have the resources to support such groups.
Support we provide in Kotayk
When we arrived in Kotayk the authorities donated us land so we could build the Children's Village. Immediately after the earthquake we provided the support that was needed to children and families during the emergency.
We now run several programmes to help the authorities, families, and young people. We give teacher training to school teachers, and run nurseries so parents can work during the day in the knowledge their children are safe while they are earning a living. The cost of nursery care to the parents is only a symbolic fee - it does not cover our costs.
SOS Children aim to strengthen families by providing support to keep those families together. This may include counselling and advice as to how to improve their incomes, but also include ensuring they eat enough of the right food. We intervene with families that might abandon children for economic reasons to ensure that their kids grow up in their own family unit as opposed to one provided by us or the authorities.
Cared for by an SOS Mother
In SOS Children's Village Kotayk, there are 12 SOS families, cared for by SOS Mothers. In 1988 an Armenian artist got involved and painted murals on the walls of the family houses, meaning the children's homes are a bright and colourful place to live. Children of SOS families go to local schools and play a part in their communities.
In 2001 we set up an SOS youth programme in Yerevan. Living in supported accommodation as they grow up, the programme gives advice and support as they become adults, whilst undertaking vocational training or further education to young people, preparing them for a better future.
Children and families in Kotayk are supported by our range of services that enhance their well-being and welfare. You can support a happy childhood by sponsoring a child today.