среда, 14 сентября 2011 г.

Bill & Fran Chattin, first time volunteer experience in Armenia

Three years ago we did not even know Armenia existed. Then we hosted an exchange student, Hasmik, from Armenia, and we learned about the great republic of Armenia. When Hasmik went back home, we promised to visit her and her family. As we began planning our trip, we learned of FCHA through facebook. We inquired about volunteering and found a trip that would fit with both our's and Hasmik's schedules.

When we arrived in Yerevan, Gohar from FCHA was waiting for us. We joined the rest of our work team and traveled to Vanadzor where we would be working for the next two weeks. It took us about an hour every morning to get to the work sites. We worked with 2 different families, one for 5 days and the other 2 days. At both sites the family was always waiting for us along with friends and extended

family members who had come to help. The youngest daughter of the first family, 7 year old Suzie, worked with us all day, talked with everyone, sang songs for us, and just won the hearts of everyone there. We mixed and poured concrete into forms already built around the perimeter of the four external walls and one internal wall. This involved mixing the concrete in an electric powered mixer and shoveling the concrete into buckets to be handed through a bucket line to the destination at the top of the walls. We also moved dirt along a bucket line to level the floors of the home so that the cement floors could be poured. At the second work site, we also moved dirt via the bucket line to level floors of the house so the concrete floors could be poured. Both families worked so hard, and really impressed me with their strength and endurance. The friendship and the acceptance of us non-Armenians was something that we felt very strongly, and will always cherish.

While we were still in Armenia, but after we had left working with FCHA, we learned that the next team had made a lot of progress on the first house we worked on and that it may be ready to live in by November of this year. It was a great feeling to know that we were a part, if even a small part, of making this happen.

One thing that we have taken away from this whole experience is the attitude and spirit of the people we helped. They have very little in the way of material possessions. And they have a very hard life. But they have not given up. The Armenian families that we worked with have a pride in their work and in their homes as they work on them. They seem to enjoy life, and especially enjoy each other. They are a very hospitable and generous people.

After our two weeks with FCHA we spent another two weeks visiting Hasmik and her family, where we experienced more great Armenian hospitality. We now realize that we have not just an Armenian daughter, but a whole Armenian family. We also got to see a lot of Armenia both with FCHA and with Hasmik. Armenia is a beautiful country, with wonderful people. And FCHA is doing a great work in Armenia. We plan to come back again. God bless Armenia!

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