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HABITAT FOR HUMANITY – ARMENIA

September 2016

 

The build site for this Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip to Armenia was in the village of Argel which is located in the Kotayk province and which is about a half hour drive North of Yerevan, the capital and largest city in Armenia.

The Habitat Family

The Habitat family we were working with consisted of the father, Vahagn, his wife Tatevik and their two sons Karen (7) and Arsen (5). The family was helped by relatives and friends.

The Team

The Global Village team was led by Tanya McMurdo and was made up of eight individuals from various parts of Canada.

 

During the Build we stayed at Envoy Hostel in central Yerevan and ate at a number of very good restaurants within walking distance of the Hostel.

 

Each day that we were at the build site the family prepared lunch and break snacks. We had an amazing assortment of local breads, pastries, fresh vegetables, salads, cheese and meals of fish, mutton, chicken and beef.  

 

The walls and roof of the house had been built (stone block walls and metal roof) by the family prior to our arrival. Our contribution was to plaster most of the walls and pour the cement floor in half of the house. “Plastering” the walls consists of screening sand, mixing cement-sand, throHousewing the mixture at the wall so it will stick, levelling it out and then applying a final smooth coat of fine sand and cement. All moving of sand and cement was done using buckets and all mixing was done manually using shovels. Grunt work! The progress we made far exceeded the expectations of Habitat Armenia for the size of team and build days (at least that is what they told us). Photos of the house and the work we did and the dedication and BBQ at the end of the build.    

 

The family still has a lot of work to do to complete the house but their plan is to be able to move in by the end of 2016.

 

Habitat in Armenia - Armenia

Habitat for Humanity Armenia tackles poverty housing through a variety of efforts, including the construction of affordable houses, the completion of half-built homes, implementation of water and sanitation facilities and the advocacy for improved housing policies for low-income families.

 

The collapse of the Soviet Union was followed by a mass privatization of housing, a devastating 1988 earthquake in Spitak and a large influx of refugees due to the conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno Karabackh have each contributed to a major housing crisis in Armenia.

 

A significant part of houses (apartments) in large cities are in very poor shape because of lack of maintenance – the issue is the result of a radical housing privatization that occurred between 1991 and 1999 where the state handed over dwellings to the sitting tenants but with no legal infrastructure for taking care of common property. If they can afford it, people look after the interior of their apartment but the roof, halls, stairs, other common areas, utilities etc. all deteriorate because no one is “responsible” for taking care of them and there is no legal structure available to raise the money to do the work. Also, many tenants are cash-poor and cannot afford to pay for the maintenance.

 

All of the Habitat team arrived in Yerevan at least one day prior to the start of the build and we spent that first day getting use to the 10 hour time difference with Canada and doing a guided tour of Yerevan. I was impressed by some of the architecture and the amount of public art displayed throughout the city.

Garni Armenia

In conjunction with the build we did a couple of cultural tours to historical sites within and surrounding Yerevan. These included a day trip to Geghard Monastery and Garni Temple, a trip to another habitat GV Build in Zovaber, and we visited the Holy Echmiadzin Cathedral and the ruins of the Zvartnots Cathedral.

 

Following the build the team did a two day excursion into the mountainous southern regions of Armenia and visited many contemporary and historical sites inlcuding Khor Virap, Areni Village, Noravank, Aghitu memoril, Vorotnavank monastery, Tatev Ropeway and monastery and Karahunj. To see photos of these places go to my Armenia page.

 

For more information on Habitat for Humanity, Habitat Global Village or Habitat Armenia, click on the following links:

Habitat Edmonton

Habitat Global Village

Habitat Armenia