After completing all of our construction goals last week, we were so excited to finally have an opportunity to spend some time with the village children. We held a day camp for three days that got the children involved in various classes such as arts & crafts, sports, dance, english, hygiene & health, and computers. On the last day we held a closing ceremony where the children could present what they learned or the creation that they made in class. After a packed, fun-filled week and a half we were extremely sad to say goodbye.
I'm excited to report that we have completed the huge construction projects that were planned for week one! From teaching us how to mix cement, weld, and stretch a fence with a pitchfork, the villagers helped us increase our efficiency by at least 50%. The fence was up and secured in no time! Some of the playground toys also needed to be re-secured with cement and other reinforcement. Once that was completed the area was flooded with children eager to explore and play. There's nothing more rewarding than seeing huge smiles on all of the children's faces.
After finishing up construction our entire team decided to do a little exploration, scaling up some of the surrounding mountains and venturing to some of the villagers houses to get a better idea of how they live and to hear their story.
We've made it to Day 3 of construction and so far so good! We've made an immense amount of progress with the playground reaching completion and the fence project steadily approaching its half-way point. We are overwhelmed with the amount of support we have received from the villagers, with many of them willing to pick up a shovel or a paint brush to help us reach our goal. Although we have made loads of progress I must admit that we have reached a few roadblocks along the way. In the beginning some of the villagers whose houses neighbored the school were concerned about the boundaries we were setting with the fences. After much negotiation we reached a consensus amongst the villagers as to what part of the land would be appropriated to either side.
Alex Suppiah, a middle school student from California will be joining the Hidden Road Initiative in the remote village of Akhpradzor this summer to build a playground, a fence, an outhouse, a library and a soccer field for the village school.
The upcoming project will be for two weeks, with the first week (July 6-10) devoted to construction and the second week (July 13-17) devoted to camp.
Our team will be the most diverse it has ever been with 27 volunteers from 6 different countries, including USA, Lebanon, Syria, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Germany, and most not of Armenian descent.
Suppiah is not your average Boy Scout, as he is fulfilling his lifelong mission to achieve the highest and most difficult rank, Eagle Scout. A component of earning this rank is completing the Eagle Leadership Service Project requirement. After searching for a project to take on, he came across HRI.
He shortly jumped on board after learning about the organization’s work, helping the children and rebuilding the village school of Akhpradzor. When Suppiah took on this project he soon came to discover that the school’s top four needs included fixing the fence, building a playground, outhouse, and library. In an effort to fundraise he held various garage sales and started a web page promoting his cause, amounting to over $13,000 in donations.
In collaboration with HRI project director in Armenia, Vktoria Mouzenian, and the United States a plan for construction was set forth and put into action. After months of planning this diverse team is ready to launch their 2015 summer program in Akhpradzor!