Armenia Tree Project’s (ATP) work at Armenia’s borders is active as ever. We are invested in supporting the residents living in these communities by providing them trees as well as engaging the local youth via our Environmental Education (EE) programs.
In Armenia’s northeastern province of Tavush, ATP’s Community Tree Planting (CTP) program has supplied trees to several border villages, including Ayrum, Bagratashen, Dovegh, Kirants, Koti, Paravakar, Voskepar, Aygepar, Chinari, Movses and Nerkin Karmir. The EE team visits the schools in many of these villages several times a year teaching classes about Armenia’s water resources, waste management, climate change and biodiversity.
Tatev Khachikyan, a principal from a border village, shares that her school is in the direct line of sight from an Azerbaijani military post on the hillside above. “Living in constant danger has made our people even more resilient and fearless,” said Khachikyan. “We want to live in peace in our mountains.”
Another border village of Tavush protects its schoolyard with thick perimeter walls. This April, in addition to providing barrier trees for more security, ATP contributed decorative trees and fruit trees to barren yards. What is not eaten fresh can be dried or made into jams and become a source of income for the school.
Leaders from another neighboring border village requested trees for the community cemetery located on the slope of a hill. Currently, villagers bury their dead under cover of darkness because the daytime is too dangerous, too exposed. ATP provided trees for perimeter use that can grow quickly to form natural barriers and mask the daily life of the community, shielding residents.
This week, ATP teams distributed apple, pear and cherry trees to families in Vaghatur and Khoznavar villages located on the border in the southern region of Syunik. Among the 110 beneficiaries who received the fruit trees were a handful of families who relocated from Artsakh after the war. Artur of Vaghatur says he was encouraged by ATP’s visit and gifts of fruit trees. Pointing to the majestic mountains, he said, “Our families remain proudly, steadfast on our land.”
ATP also distributed fruit trees in Artsakh last week. Fifty Backyard Greenhouse Program beneficiaries from Herher, Karmir Shuka, Taghavard villages and the city of Martuni, as well as villagers who showed interest, received 1,200 fruit trees for their personal gardens.
In July, ATP’s EE team will host a camp for the children and youth of the border villages from Tavush, Gegharkunik, Ararat and Syunik regions. There are plans underway for the children of Artsakh as well, including a summer camp for the children of Stepanakert, Askeran and Martuni.
ATP’s Eco-Clubs put environmental education into action. Eco Clubs are operating in villages in Ararat and Gegharkunik that unfortunately feel the constant presence of danger. Eco Club programs strengthen the environmental spirit of Armenian youth while teaching leadership skills. The environmentally friendly projects also build self-esteem and pride in the community, which impact their will to remain in their village.
The tenacious wish of families living in these border villages is to simply live their daily lives in peace and on their land. ATP’s commitment to Armenian youth and border communities have multiple effects on the protection of the land and the people, today and into the future.