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September 4, 2003: School Uniforms for Street Children

There are many ways one can help children of Armenia: street children, children from extremely impoverished families who cannot afford buying clothing, shoes or school uniforms to go to school. These children once had good families, caring parents and siblings. The economic hardships in the last decade however, threw many of them in the streets. Many of the fathers left the country, women had to work hard for daily bread.

It is amazing how little contributions can make a tangible difference. Gumri Street Children Program is working with about 40 extremely poor children. Many of them live in shacks where the wood or kerosene stove serves as a stove to cook, table, place to dry out the wet clothing, etc. In winter time especially it is hard to be there over ten minutes, because of the smoke, smell of the kerosene, food leftover. And yet, these children struggle, dig in garbage for food and try to survive in their harsh environment.

Dignity shares Armenians' love for children. We think these children should have opportunities for a better life, food and proper education. At the beginning of the 2003 School year, school uniforms, backpacks, shoes, school supplies and other related items were purchased for about 40 kids, so they can go to school and look normal and not ashamed of their looks. Schools in Armenia normally require that the children wear school uniforms and many of the children refuse to go to school not only because they feel bad for their looks, but also because they literally don't have shoes, books or other things. But when these kids are clean and dressed, they just turn to be joy with: cheerful, happy and feeling dignified.

At the end of the day, we felt like each $30-35 spent on each kid made their world more hopeful and added some happiness in their lives.

Tracy Thoman and Kim Iskyan from the USAID/Armenia contributed $500, this with other donations enabled Dignity to help the children of Armenia. We were able to give $1000 to buy children active in the Gumri Street Children Program school uniforms and school items. Program Manager Geghanuysh was very excited: "Those children would not be able to attend school this year if not these uniforms. We adults should not let our children suffer and it's not their fault. They deserve a better life."

Geghanuysh is also struggling to get resources to provide some nutrition for these children. Many of them are gifted in certain areas, they like music and arts, but their families cannot even afford dreaming about those things. The Gumri Program is trying hard to provide those opportunities to the kids. Dignity, too, wants not only good nutrition for the kids but also food for their spiritual and educational upbringing.

Mother Theresa once was asked: How shall we achieve peace in the world? She said: "Go home and love your families." These children need a little more love, a little more care in their lives. The world is getting smaller and smaller and we should find ways to love these kids and their families, give something, help them grow so we could have a more peaceful and happier world to live in.




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