Outstanding organizations making a difference in Armenia

Len Wicks and Armine Hakobyan Wicks

Origins: Discovery’s Adopt-a-Village (AAV) project is the initiative of the husband and wife team of Australian/New Zealander Len Wicks and Armenian Armine Hakobyan Wicks. The project aims to beautify villages for tourism and help rural Armenians with direct support projects. The goal of the Origins project is to open the eyes of the world to the beauty of Armenia and its ancient culture. Together, the two projects aim to encourage tourism and business, and recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

“The Adopt-a-Village (AAV) program prepares Armenia for tourism and focuses on strengthening the rural heartland by mentoring each village through a direct relationship with the diaspora and friends of Armenia,” said Len. Wicks, founder of Origins: Discovery. He added: “It aims to stop the depopulation that the emphasis on Yerevan’s development has actually worsened, which poses a security threat. Eventually, this direct relationship could encourage part of the diaspora to settle in the rural center, as the founders of AAV did.

Len and Armine build a lodge in an orchard surrounded by water and nature. Areni Lodge is part of the Adopt-a-Village project which aims to reach all Armenian villages. Besides Vayots Dzor, AAV projects also operate in Ararat and Shirak provinces.

The AAV project and the construction of Areni Lodge offer multiple benefits for the region and the local populations. The project encourages tourism and trade in the region and provides jobs for locals. It is also helping to reverse the depopulation that has become a major problem in the context of the ongoing rise between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

As the village of Areni is located closer to the Armenian-Azerbaijani border where the risk of military conflict is still high, the risk of depopulation is also high. Continuing to build and create is important for many reasons, including keeping people in good spirits and hoping for a brighter and more peaceful future.

The Areni Open-Air Cultural Museum is located in Areni, next to the beautiful Arpa River. The development of the museum is part of the Adopt a Village charity program to help strengthen rural Armenia. The museum will be administered by the Municipality of Areni for the benefit of local artisans and the wider community.

CRDH staff and some of the veterans they help

Defender of the Fatherland Rehabilitation Center (HDRC)

The Defender of the Fatherland Rehabilitation Center (HDRC) was established in collaboration between the NGO “Support for Wounded Soldiers and Disabled Soldiers”, Yerevan State Medical University (YSMU) and the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia. The HDRC is equipped with first-rate modern equipment necessary for rehabilitation treatment, unparalleled in the region and operates according to the latest methods used in the rehabilitation treatment industry and first-class research technologies.

HDRC is a comprehensive rehabilitation complex. Initial passive rehabilitation treatment and active treatment are provided at the Centre. It provides all necessary medical services with their interdisciplinary team of specifically trained experts, including rehabilitation doctors, acupuncturists, physiotherapists, psychologists, speech therapists and other highly qualified specialists.

The center is within the premises of the first clinical hospital run by YSMU, giving them access to the professional services of the university’s teaching staff and lecturer. The university hospital, its intensive care unit, its laboratory, its medical equipment are at the disposal of the center.

A few of the treatments offered at HDRC include brain and spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, neurological problems, meningitis, encephalitis, radiculitis, neuritis, stroke rehabilitation, among others.

The center also offers physiotherapy, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, aquakinesitherapy, acupuncture, halotherapy, occupational therapy, paraffin therapy, speech therapist, psychologist, massage, etc. All experts are highly qualified and leading specialists in their fields who have taken training in different European countries.

There are two swimming pools available at the center for patients with disabilities who can walk and for those who use wheelchairs. The latter is equipped with a transport crane. A hydromassage cabin is available for full body treatment and two separate hydromassage cabins are available for upper and lower limbs.

Beauty By Soldiers is an HDRC project that provides several benefits, including a source of income for the Center, jobs for veterans, and a type of art therapy for their psychological rehabilitation. Natural butterflies bred on special farms around the world are donated to the Center. Soldiers are paid to create unique artistic compositions in special glass, which are then sold for considerable sums. They give a second life to beauty without harming nature. All proceeds from the sale of works of art fund the Centre’s various programs.

For more information about the gala, please visit https://www.helpheroes.am/?lang=arm&p=29.

(Vic Gerami is an award-winning journalist and the editor+publisher of The Blunt Post. Gerami is also the host and co-producer of the national news+politics program, THE BLUNT POST with VIC on KPFK 90.7 FM (Pacifica Network).)

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