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A Street Children Program, Gyumri

Geghanush Junashyan directs “The daily center of children support” program for street children in Gyumri. The primary purpose of the organization is to get children who would otherwise run the streets all day to go to school. These are children from extremely vulnerable families, most of who do not have jobs: some are in detention facilities; many are gone to Russia or other foreign countries looking for jobs. Many can’t pay for electricity and therefore, they don’t have electricity. Many families live in shacks, where the wood stove provides heating, cooking, and when not hot, as a table, work space, and even a place laundering the clothes. These families also don’t have steady access to water so sanitation and hygiene are problems with these children. Because of their vulnerability and economic instability, there is a high risk for these children to get involved in prostitution or other illegal activities.

“The daily center of children support” was established in 2000 as a part of the “Shirak International Association” NGO Gyumri branch. The aim of this center is to help children from poor families, street children, children with some behavioral and other psychological problems to continue their enrollment in schools. The center promotes this objective through four different services: Social, psychological, pedagogical, and health care.

The work with children starts from the families to let them know about the Center’s objectives and care for children; the families and children then decide if they want to attend the Center. Here they can receive individual tutoring from the members of the center when providing them services. Children come here daily after school to study their lessons, play with other kids and then go back to their families.

The Center has 6 paid employees and 20 volunteers. The paid jobs include psychologist, social workers, a doctor, bookkeeper and director. Most volunteers tutor and socialize with the children. The Center has a program of interesting activities, social contact, moral support for the children and homework tutoring.

Many of the children are malnourished; the center provides some food to the children but it is not enough and not high quality. Food support is one of the needs of the Center. $2 per day/child is enough for an afternoon snack and a healthy meal before they leave for home.

The organization currently hosts about 35 children who come to the center daily after school and stay until 5 pm for after-school activities. Gyumri is the second biggest city in Armenia and some children needing the services of the Center live more than a mile away. Money is needed for bus fare for these children to commute daily, since the Center is in the Northern end of the city. It costs about 20 cents for bus fare. Packages of 100 bus tickets can be purchased for $20.

Children in the public schools must wear uniforms to school. Last year the Red Cross provided one school uniform for each child, but this year the Red Cross did not have sufficient funds for uniforms. Fortunately, Dignity was able to find resources to purchase school uniforms, shoes, school supplies and back packs for 37 children so they can go to school starting in September.
Now the children need clothing for autumn and winter; Gyumri is in the Northern highlands of Armenia where winters are cold and they last several months. Parents of the children cannot afford stationary and school supplies: paper, books, pens, etc.$15 will supply one child with school supplies for a year.

All the record keeping is done by hand but the staff would like to use a computer, which would greatly facilitate their daily job. Several staff members have computer skills and if they had access to more than one computer in their Center they would like to include computer classes in their education program for the children. In the last year we provided two computers for children’s use and administrative purposes; this became possible due to partnership with UMCOR. In addition, in collaboration with ARDA (see Food Supply to Local Organizations page – should be clickable) we provided over 100 kg of dried fruit, beans and raisin to the Center.

Dignity’s efforts are very modest in helping the Center grow and provide due attention and care to disadvantaged children in Gyumri. Yet, we feel that little things make a difference. We ask you to join us with your prayers, good will and support.




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