During a meeting with the State Minister of the Republic of Artsakh Artak Beglaryan on April 26, the State Minister expressed confidence that the Fund could find common ground for cooperation with the Armenian Association of Social Workers. Right during the meeting, he contacted Mira Antonyan, the head of the organization, and we exchanged contacts. An offline meeting took place a few days later. On May 1, during her regular visit to Artsakh, Ms Antonyan contacted Gohar Hovhannisyan and the meeting took place in the foyer of the Park Hotel in Stepanakert.
First, the officials of Hanganak spoke about the establishment of the organization, presented the Elderly Program and the latest developments, and spoke specifically about the challenges facing the organization after the war.
Presenting the Armenian Association of Social Workers and social work in general, Ms Antonyan spoke about their research in Artsakh and Armenia after the war, which aimed to assess the needs of Artsakh residents living and displaced from Artsakh. They came to the conclusion that the social service, as such, is absent in Artsakh, and the idea of introducing that service arose. The preliminary assessment revealed that a total of at least 250 social workers are needed to organize the service. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the program is in progress, courses are already being organized to train specialists.
The program is implemented in cooperation with the government and qualified specialists are hired immediately. Association of Social Workers of Armenia and the Faculty of Sociology of Yerevan State University (YSU) have introduced a master’s program in Social Work at Artsakh State University and Mesrop Mashtots University. The support for the Master’s program is provided by the local Government and the program of the Armenian Educational Institution called Effective introduction and strengthening of the social services for a resilient Artsakh. The scale and momentum of the project backed with the enthusiasm of the young people was impressive.
It turned out that Ms Antonyan was the Executive Director of the FAR Child Support Center. Surprisingly, collaborating with the same organizations, these two organizations had not been in contact before.
This was the first meeting, but certainly not the last, as an agreement was reached to discuss possible cooperation, including social service in a broad sense, in the Elderly Program.