What's happening in Spitak.

Update from the Spitak YMCA

(Update: status as of Nov 17, 2021): Armenia is struggling with a crippling fourth wave of the pandemic. This time, children are especially hard-hit. The amount of fatalities is on the rise nationwide. Because of this, the Spitak YMCA has decided to close its kindergarden, as the public schools and kindergardens have done as well.

In the midst of this situation, the Spitak YMCA is still preparing meals for the Spitak Hospital -- currently up to 150 meals per day.

The Spitak YMCA's other programs remain open.

This week, the first attendees of the new Women Resource Centre's training course are graduating. The goal of this project is to empower women to start their own businesses in the cosmetics industry, in order to enable them to contribute meaningfully to their household income. These women trained as manicurists, but other courses for hair stylists, eyebrow and lip tattooists and hair removal specialists are planned as well.



New Newsletter from Spitak YMCA

Members of the Spitak YMCA talk about the turbulent year that was 2020.

Escalations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

We are shocked and and saddened by the new developments in the conflict within the Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh. We are in touch with our friends in Armenia multiple times per day. Find the newest updates on their situation here.

Update: 23/12/20

We'd like to give you a quick update from Spitak.

At the beginning of October, the Spitak YMCA accepted two extended families who fled from Nagorno-Karabakh.

On November 9, the  war ended with a cease-fire. In this agreement, large parts of the Nagorno-Karabakh region were ceded to Azerbaijani control.

The husbands of the two families were luckier than over 2500 others: They survived the war at the front and returned to their families in Spitak after the cease-fire. One family's house in Martakert was badly damaged in the war, but makeshift repairs have been made. During the repair work, the family was still accomodated at and supported by the Spitak YMCA. Shortly before their shorter access road came under Azerbaijani control at the end of November, the family travelled back home. This way, they did not have to take the longer route with all of their children and seniors.

The family from Hadrut, on the other hand, lost all of their belongings and their home to the war. Their village now belongs to Azerbaijan and they have no access to it. The Spitak YMCA is now discussing the possibility of them renting an appartment in Spitak. The family will continue to be accomodated at the Spitak YMCA for as long as necessary.

But the Spitak YMCA doesn't just want to help this one family. They see great potential in long-term aid and integration of refugees. Various future possibilities are now being evaluated. The large amount of donations we have received will allow us to make a starting investment in such a project.

Armenia is understandably struggling hard to recover from this devastating war, as well as the severe and continuing coronavirus outbreak. Every Armenian has been deeply affected by the trauma, the fear and the hopelessness. Frustration with indifferent reactions from other countries and the fear of future wars are understandable reactions. These problems are compounded by domestic political tensions.

In the midst of this difficult situation, the Spitak YMCA is helping to give people hope and a new perspective. Young volunteers and employees do invaluable work in supporting the refugees, offering childcare and a meal service for the local hospital. Some activities, like opening a gym, are slowly being restarted. We are in close contact with our Armenian partners - they send their love and are grateful for all the support they have received.

Update: 28/10/20

Even after the third armistice, this time initiated by the USA, hopes for a speedy resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh armed conflict have not risen. We are again receiving accounts of truce violations and further losses. There is no end to the suffering...

Since the beginning of last week, our partner organisation, the Spitak YMCA, has been needed more than ever.

Numbers of COVID cases in Armenia have risen sharply and Spitak's hospital has been declared an emergency facility once again. In this context, the Spitak YMCA was again asked to help provide aid to the hospital.

The group of Nagorno-Karabakh refugees, consisting of five adults and 14 children, are provided with childcare and occupation. Some of them are helping to prepare meals for the hospital. Others provide childcare at the Spitak YMCA's own kindergarten, which is now attended by children from both Spitak and Nagorno-Karabakh. Still others help out as harvest hands in the Spitak YMCA's garden. The adults are also invited to take part in conversation groups to talk about their situation.

A small ray of hope for the future in these dark times.

The Spitak YMCA's garden and agricultural project has now largely been rebuilt and the remaining fruit trees have brought a rich harvest. The planned repairs and planting of new trees have been complicated by the two crises since May 2020. To date, only 72 of the 132 destroyed trees have been replanted. We hope to at least repair the hail protection net before winter in order to shelter the remaining plants.

Our crowdfunding campaign through "I care for you" has been a great success. Our donation goal was reached in four days, providing the Spitak YMCA with funds for 30 days. We are now continuing to collect donations, as there is no end in sight to the crises and we would like the Spitak YMCA's aid to be available to as many people as possible.

Our crowdfunding campaign has attracted media attention, and and Radio Lifechannel have published news reports on our efforts. These articles were shared many times on social media, leading the YMCA Europe to inform its members about the Spitak YMCA's invaluable work. 

We ask you again to share the following link in support for our campaign:

Thank you.

Status as of 15/10/20

We are shocked and and saddened by the new developments in the conflict within the Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh. We are in touch with our friends in Armenia multiple times per day.

An armistice was declared on Saturday 10 October, but accounts of violations of the truce are a daily occurrence. The situation is confusing and it seems unlikely that a solution will be found soon. The conflict seems unsolvable, and losses are beyond words...

Armenian sources reported 532 casulaties on the Armenian side yesterday, including many young recruits, several people from Spitak, some of them close to the Spitak YMCA. We grieve the victims of this war and pray for the bloodshed to end.

Day-to-day life in Armenia seems to go on, but this is a humanitarian crisis in the making. After being hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, the country of Armenia is now under direct threat. The government has advised all citizens who have not been drafted into the military to furnish indivdual emergency kits and prepare to leave their homes on short notice to take refuge elsewhere. In Yerevan, in other cities as well as in rural areas.

Many people have already fled from their homes in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, looking for refuge elsewhere within Armenia. Various institutions and organisations, as well as private individuals, have stepped up to offer these people shelter and a temporary home. Among the refugees are many women, children and seniors.

The Spitak YMCA has made the decision to offer its entire infrastructure as a shelter for families from Nagorno-Karabakh in these difficult times. Families receive a roof over their heads, meals and eduation for school-aged children. Once again, the Spitak YMCA is providing invaluable aid in the midst of this new crisis.

To help cover costs for this emergency shelter, we are now again collecting donations for the Spitak YMCA's work. To do this, we've decided to use "I Care For You", a Swiss crowdfunding platform. Please help us by giving out the following link to people you know:

Thank you for your continuing support.