Jinishian Memorial Foundation delegation visits Armenia and NKR

by Phil Asgian and Sara Todd

Published: Tuesday December 08, 2009

The 2009 Jinishian Memorial Foundation study group in Etchmiadzin.

During a competition at the Gavar City middle school, a student team debates whether Armenia and Turkey are ready for Turkey to open the common border.

Louisville, Ky - The Jinishian Memorial Foundation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) sponsored its inaugural study tour this past September to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Since its founding in 1966, the Jinishian Memorial Foundation has helped over 2 million Armenians in need throughout the Middle East and Armenia. Jinishian's largest efforts are in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The study tour provided opportunities to become actively engaged with program beneficiaries, partners and the foundation's Armenia country staff.

Jinishian programs are ecumenical and focused on development, not relief. Under the leadership of Eliza Minasyan, Armenia county director for Jinishian, and Sara Todd, Jinishian program manager from the foundation headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, this ecumenical group included two Presbyterians, an Episcopalian, a Roman Catholic, a Lutheran, and members of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

The delegation visited village nurse training programs, clinics, educational and spiritual development programs, orphanages, vocational training centers, and agricultural and civic engagement programs. Participants met with church leaders from the Armenian Apostolic, Armenian Catholic and Armenian Evangelical denominations.

There are six focal areas that Jinishian programs address in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, and the group visited beneficiaries, supporting organizations and partners in all six areas. These are (1) economic development, (2) community-based development, (3) health, (4) civil society development, (5) education, and (6) spiritual development.

"While we were continually impressed by many of the program efforts, those associated with young people left lasting impressions," the foundation said in a statement. 

At the Gavar City middle school the delegation joined many young students and teachers for a debate-team competition, part of the civic engagement efforts of Jinishian.They debated the protocols on the normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey. This event took place only weeks before the protocols were signed. This particular project also illustrates the depth of Jinishian partnerships. The partners in the debate team project involve the local organization Youth for Achievements and the European Commission's Delegation to Armenia.

While this and other schools in Armenia that Jinishian visited need a lot of physical improvements, the children and teachers achieve strong results with very meager resources. The literacy rate in Armenia exceeds that of the United States.

"Each time we met with individuals and groups we were encouraged by their ability to achieve sustained benefits from community partners working together on common goals," the foundation stated.

connect:
pcusa.org/jinishian

 

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