SOS Children’s Villages Armenia
Following the devastating earthquake on December 7th, 1988, SOS Children decided to offer immediate help to children who had lost their parents in this tragedy by building the first SOS Children’s Village in the country. In co-operation with the Armenian Lenin Children’s Foundation, a suitable plot of land for the village was found in the town of Kotajk, close to the area affected by the earthquake and about eight miles from the capital city Yerevan. Construction work began and in July 1990 the first children were able to move into their new homes with their SOS mothers. There were no pre-school facilities in the area so an SOS nursery school was set up in one of the family houses. This was replaced by a purpose-built nursery school in 1995. In February 2001 a youth home was opened in Yerevan for the teenagers who had outgrown the village and wanted some independence. Here they are looked after until they are able to live on their own.
SOS Children’s Village Kotajk has twelve family houses, with seven children living in each. The houses are surrounded by lots of green grass. Located close to the Children’s Village is the SOS nursery school, which offers around 100 children a good pre-school education. Around 90% of these young pupils are from the local community in Kotajk, the remaining 10% are children from the Children’s Village. SOS children attend the local primary and secondary schools. In Yerevan, there are two youth homes, with around 15 teenagers living in each. Once of the homes is for girls, and the other is for boys.
The children at SOS Children’s Village Kotajk have been very busy recently with lots of events, activities, sports and, of course, school. They spent part of their summer holidays at a sports camp near Lake Sevan where they met lots of other children and made new friends. One of our young boys recently won the National Championships in Canoe-Paddling for his age group; everyone was very proud of him. Lots of our children like playing football, and there are lots of friendly competitions between the teams. SOS teams also play against local village teams, which mean they get to meet more children from their neighbouring community.
Many of the children are budding little artists, and if they make really beautiful crafts in art class they will be put on display in Armenia’s National Folklore Museum. Recently all the family homes were repainted, and under supervision all the children got to help. They made the houses really colourful and they even painted murals on the outside walls!
There have been many exciting school trips for the youngsters at the SOS nursery school. They have been to the zoo and the circus, and even to the theatre. They made decorations at Christmas and Easter, and all the children are progressing well with their studies. They particularly love reading.