Armenia Tree Project’s work at Armenia’s borders is active as ever. We are invested in supporting the residents living in these communities by providing them trees as well as engaging the local youth via ATP’s Environmental Education programs.
In Armenia’s Northeastern province of Tavush, ATP’s Community Tree Planting program has contributed trees to several border villages, including Ayrum, Bagratashen, Dovegh, Kirants, Koti, Paravakar, Voskepar, Aygepar, Chinari, Movses, and Nerkin Karmir. ATP’s EE team visit the schools in many of these villages several times a year teaching classes about Armenia’s water resources, waste management, climate change and biodiversity.
Tatev Khachikyan, a principal from a border village (whose name we omit for safety,) shares that the school is under direct view of an Azerbaijani military post on the hillside above, although for the time being there is peace. “Living in constant danger has made our people even more resilient and fearless…we want to live in peace in our mountains,” said Khachikyan.
Another border village of Tavush protects their schoolyard with thick perimeter walls. This April, in addition to providing barrier trees for more security, ATP provided decorative trees to contribute to greening of the barren yard, creating a verdant and uplifting environment. We also provided fruit trees that produce nutritious and profitable bounties to support the schoolchildren in multiple ways. What is not eaten fresh can be dried or made into jams becoming a source of income to the school.
In a neighboring border village (again, whose name we omit for safety,) the leadership requested trees for the community cemetery located on the slope of a hill. Currently, villagers bury their dead under cover of darkness because the daytime is too dangerous, too exposed. The trees ATP provides for perimeter use grow quickly to form natural barriers masking the daily life of the community from nefarious scopes and binoculars (and bullets.) ATP’s trees shield the residents and protect the community.
This week ATP teams distributed apple, pear and cherry trees to families in Vaghatur and Khoznavar villages located on the border in the southern region of Syunik. Among the 110 beneficiaries who received the fruit trees were also a handful of families who relocated from Artsakh after the war. Artur of Vaghatur commented that ATP’s visit to the village and gifts of fruit trees were very encouraging, as they showed they are not alone. Pointing to the majestic mountains, he said, “Our families remain proudly, steadfast on OUR land.”
ATP also distributed fruit trees in Artsakh last week. 50 Backyard Greenhouse Program beneficiaries from Herher, Karmir Shuka, Taghavard villlages, and Martuni City, as well as villagers who showed interest, received 1,200 fruit trees for their personal gardens. The trees will provide nourishment and sources of income to the villagers for years to come.
This July, ATP’s EE team will host a camp for the children and youth of the border villages from Tavush, Gegharkunik, Ararat and Syunik regions. There are plans underway for the children of Artsakh as well, including a summer camp for the children of Stepanakert, Askeran and Martuni.
The Eco-Clubs put ATP’s environmental education into action. We have Eco Clubs in the villages that have unfortunately feel the constant presence of danger, in Baruyr Sevag and Armash of Ararat region, which are at the corner where Armenia meets Nakhichevan and Turkey, and a club in Gegharkunik community, which borders Azerbaijan. The Eco Club programs strengthen the environmental spirit of Armenian youth while teaching leadership skills. The environmental friendly projects also build their self-esteem and pride in their communities, which affect their will to remain in their village.
As we meet and get to know the people living in villages on the border, the tenacious wish is to simply live their daily lives in peace, on their land. They want an end to the indiscriminate intimidation and constant danger. ATP’s commitment to Armenian youth and their border communities have multiple effects on the protection of the land and the people, today and into the future.
Armenia Tree Project, established in 1994, is a non-profit organization that revitalizes Armenia’s and Artsakh’s most vulnerable communities through tree-planting initiatives, and provides socio-economic support and growth. It is based in Yerevan, Armenia and has an office in Woburn, Massachusetts. For more information, please visit the Armenia Tree Project website.