BY ANNIE GUEDIKIAN
So, the first session of our AYF Youth Corps camp ended and our group left Gyumri. We woke up early on Saturday in Yerevan on our day off, put on our work clothes and shoes, spread some Nutella on lavash bread, and got ready to seize a day that would end up being one of the most meaningful days of our trip thus far.
On July 26, our group participated in a home build that was organized by Sosé & Allen’s Legacy Foundation and the Fuller Center for Housing Armenia in the Silikyan region of Armenia. This day was special not only because we got to help construct a home for an incredible family, but also because the build day was dedicated to the memory of Sosé & Allen.
For the second year volunteers came together to help build a home in Armenia in memory of the young couple that lost their lives in May 2013 and this year AYF Youth Corps participated full force with 2-dozen volunteers. This was very meaningful for us because we all know how much AYF Youth Corps meant to Sosé & Allen and how it helped shape their lives and love for Armenia.
As we approached the house in the outskirts of Yerevan, the family greeted us. Arpine Gdoyan and her daughters Marine and Mariam were warm and welcoming. The family has been through a lot. They started building their home in 2004, but halted when Arpine’s husband Sarkis tragically died in a car accident. Left with only Arpine’s schoolteacher salary, the Gdoyans have been forced to rent a different place to live. Fuller Center for Housing has been working to change that.
The foundation of the house was almost complete and we were given the task of pouring the concrete for the floors. We began to work, clumsily at first; slowly we got the hang of it. We collected buckets of water and sand, mixed the cement, poured it in heavy buckets and passed them down to fill the empty floors in the three bedrooms. As our assembly line became longer and stronger, I felt the bond between each and every one of us solidifying. Together we were organized, efficient, diligent, and made a great team.
After 6 hours in the scorching sun, our project was complete and the Gdoyan home had a new floor. Our faces were beaming when the last bucket of cement was poured. We were not only happy because we were able to help this family in need, but also tremendously proud in ourselves, that we were able to collectively take on and accomplish a task that we thought would have been impossible to complete.
As I reflect on our trip thus far, at the halfway point of Youth Corps, I realize that our entire trip in Armenia has been a task that I never thought I would be able to do. I am so proud that I have been able to have a positive influence on hundreds of children in my homeland. I can’t describe what this feeling exactly is, but it is definitely an emotional one filled with meaning, love, and satisfaction. Sosé & Allen’s build day allowed me to tangibly see the huge impact we can have through small, dedicated acts. I now understand how important my efforts are here as a Youth Corps volunteer here for the next 3 weeks and as a diasporan Armenian for the rest of my life.
Annie Guedikian is in Armenia this summer volunteering with AYF Youth Corps. She is one of 4 recipients of the 2014 Sosé & Allen’s Foundation Youth Corps Fellowship.