BY NAIRI DULGARIAN AND ALEENA SIVAZLIAN
Coming to Armenia, we all knew that putting on the first ever AYF Youth Corps jampar in Baghanis would be an experience of a lifetime. Since it is a small town with a small population and not a single one of us had ever been there, nobody really knew what to expect. Now that we have spent a week in Baghanis, we’ve, for the most part, adjusted to the way of life here. We have also seen many differences between the kids here compared to the kids that participated in our other camps. We noticed these differences through many aspects of camp throughout different parts of the day. For example, take Wednesday’s simple arts and crafts activity.
It started off like any other jampar activity. We asked the kids to draw two pictures: one of how they see Baghanis now, and another of how they want to see Baghanis in the future. Many of the kids said they saw Baghanis as a small town, but wanted to see it as a big city. Others drew future Baghanis as a town with more modern technology. Of all these drawings, one caught our eye the most.
Narek, who is fifteen years old, handed us his paper just like everyone else and walked back to his table. On one side of the paper (how he sees Baghanis now), he had drawn the Armenia-Azerbeijan border, with armed men fighting on both sides. On the other side of the paper (how he wants to see Baghanis in the future), he again drew the Armenia-Azerbeijan border. However, this time, the men in the picture were unarmed and peacefully shaking hands.
Upon seeing it, we became overwhelmed with emotion and needed a moment to collect ourselves outside of the classroom. It’s unbelievable how this kid has so much to worry about, yet can carry on with his life every day, full of positive energy and dreaming of peace for his homeland. This was one of the most difficult and emotional, yet humbling moments that either of us experienced at jampar so far. We realized how blessed we are that we never have to worry about such life-threatening situations like Narek and his friends do.
Walking into the classrooms each morning, with smiling faces greeting us, one would never know that each day these children walk home in fear. They fear that at any moment shots can be fired and any one of their loved ones can lose their life. But even with that instilled fear in them, they are full of faith and they are hopeful; faithful in their village and country, and hopeful that one day, they too, will live a peaceful, safe life. With a simple drawing of peace between the neighboring countries, so much is learned about their lives.