Today is a great day. After some 9 and half hours of work, I came home to a Facebook post, that lifted my spirit and reminded me of why I do the work I do.
In 2014 when my sister, Hasmik and our team designed and implemented the Hidden Road Initiative’s first development project—the construction of a much need kindergarten in the village of Tsaghkaber, located in the Lori Province of Armenia—we received a lot of no’s. The idea of 4 young woman going to Armenia in order to renovate and launch a kindergarten in an empty building, in some forgotten village seemed preposterous to most people. Nearly everyone we came across said the same thing over and over and over again, “Why are you wasting your time? The moment you leave they (referring to village leadership) will take everything and no one will operate that kindergarten anyway.” This pestilent idea dominated every conversation. Locals and diasporans alike were so concerned with corruption, that they negated to consider the very tangible benefits a brand new kindergarten would bring to the village.
Nearly two years after the successful implementation of the kindergarten in Tsaghkaber, I had a rather informal conversation with the than candidate for village Mayor, Hovik Hovhannisyan as he drove me from Tsaghkaber to a bus station in Vanadzor. The two of us discussed his move back to the village, what he plans to do when he is elected mayor, and the need to expand the village kindergarten, as the demand from young families had grown over the years.
Today, Facebook reminded me of that very conversation. Mayor Hovhannisyan posted photos of the newly furnished rooms in the kindergarten, just as we had discussed. The village, not only maintained and operated the kindergarten we worked so hard to bring to life, but worked on it, and expanded the kindergarten to accommodate more children.
Today, his Facebook post reaffirmed what we knew all along, that what we are doing was worth the effort. That people aren’t as bad as we think they are. That you can, no matter your age, (or experience in construction) inspire and empower by your actions. That you can look at an empty, rundown building, in the middle of hidden village in Armenia and rather than seeing emptiness and neglect, see opportunity.
The Hidden Road Initiative, every project, every summer camp, every scholarship we provide is about creating opportunities.
Here are two photos of the kindergarten expansion which inspired this post, as well as some photos of us back in 2014 working on this project.
You can check out more or our projects here!