BY NANE VARDANYAN
After a challenging year, each piece of good news deserves to be cherished. Here is one from us. We embark on a new journey to transform Debet, a rustic and cozy village located in the northern Lori region of Armenia, into the first SMART village in the country.
Debet is our model for holistically transforming a rural village so that people stay and flourish in their community. Comfortable, modern, and innovative solutions necessary for quality, dignified life come to upgrade the living standards in Debet for its residents, then make it attractive for the neighboring communities and for inbound and outbound tourism.
The village will have maintained roads, energy-saving street lighting, clean recreational public spaces, reliable inter-village public transportation, fully repaired tile roofs, high-quality infrastructure, a developing economy, modern communication tools, and, of course, caring and engaged residents. Indeed, to transform a village, the change should start with ourselves.
Children of Armenia Fund Infrastructure Program Coordinator Arthur Ter-Simonyan is passionate about a few upcoming details of the project. “Soon we will construct a new playground in Debet, which will be the best playground ever installed by COAF. A new bus stop with a unique design and structure is also on its way,” he noted.
As part of our Artsakh Relief Fund, we will build modular homes for families displaced from Artsakh and give them access to our Education, Health, Economic Development, and Child & Family programs in Debet village.
Now, and for the next five years, we are investing lots of love in every big and small detail of the project, are acting with speed as time is the most precious resource, and leaving a tangible impact in every sense of the word!
To choose the first SMART village, we had to opt for neither a big nor a tiny community. Debet has a population of about 800, which in our case provides a realistic amount of work. The village is home to our yet one and only COAF SMART Center, which has become one of Lori’s visiting cards and has united over 2,000 villagers from 27 communities under one roof. People visit Debet to see the SMART Center and enjoy their rest in the adjacent Concept Hotel, the whole profit of which funds our development programs.
Due to our existing and upcoming massive infrastructure projects in Debet, we have gathered a large team there – many of our colleagues, students, and partners are residents of Debet․ Who else could be more thrilled about the project if not the locals?
“We’re determined to achieve a goal per week, meaning we have a new accomplishment in the village each passing week,” remarked COAF Managing Director Korioun Khatchadourian.
During the past nine weeks, we have carried out a number of works in the three main directions of the project (infrastructure improvement, economic programs, capacity building). Here are some of our achievements so far:
- installing a water supply system (provides 11 households with drinking water 24/7),
- installing 64 LED lights in three streets (provides 30% of the community’s street lighting,
- placing a new gate in the community school,
- replacing the entrance door and the signboard of Debet Municipality building,
- placing street signs on the way to Debet,
- creating and maintaining Debet community pages on social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter),
- organizing a meeting with more than 100 residents of the community and presenting the SMART Debet village project,
- the branding of Debet, coming soon!
All our teams at COAF, from Village Programs to Accounting and Communications, will be involved in the capacity building of Debet residents. For instance, the staff of Debet Municipality will take English and Computer Literacy programs at COAF SMART. Our Communications team will train the municipality staff on effective two-way communication, and so on.
“We aim to make sure that the residents of the community will not only benefit utilizing the infrastructure, but will also be able to take care of, maintain and develop all the boon being created,” said COAF Village Programs Manager Anahit Hakobyan.
Debet is an incredibly gorgeous and quiet village reminiscent of a big family where everyone knows each other. The view is magnificent in all seasons of the year. The food is natural, delicious, and authentic. There are all the luxuries of rural peace. You will enjoy Debet with all your senses․․․
Any investment in the SMART Debet village will develop the entire Armenia as it will become an inspiration to replicate the village model in other communities. In years or even now, when reaching Debet, you will know that you have reached the first SMART village in Armenia, which also exists thanks to YOU!
Make it happen. Join our journey towards SMART Debet village!