By Wally Sarkeesian
On 29 September 2016 something magical happened in Vayots Dzor Province, Armenia. It wasn’t just the sound of Armenian music or the dancing of young villagers. It was a day when the Armenian diaspora were able to connect directly with their fellow Armenians in a unique way.
The Adopt-a-Village Project (AAV) is an idea by Australia/New Zealand genocide activist Len Wicks, who is author of Origins: Discovery, a novel that features Armenia. Len married Armine Hakobyan in 2011 and since then has been on a quest for positive change in the Fatherland.
Everyone present – diaspora, tourists, dignitaries and ordinary villagers – were captivated by the simple concept of each village in Armenia having a mentor who organized direct assistance from the diaspora and friends of Armenia living in the diaspora nation. AAV uses direct, transparent micro-projects to avoid corruption. The scheme has the potential to systematically transform the nation, by strengthening the economic independence of the most vulnerable Armenians in rural villages. It’s surprising that this hasn’t been done before.
We witnessed a gathering of people from around the world at the unveiling of the Karas Monument – designed by Len as a tourist icon to symbolize the start of the Silk Road Wine Trail that he’s promoting for tourism. Excited young villagers unfurled a 125 metre Armenian flag from the monument, singing Mer Hayrenik.
They were happy to know that others cared for them and the future was brighter.
It was noted that villagers have to play their part too. They have to clean up their village, learn languages and welcome guests, especially the supporting diaspora.
Special AAV projects were celebrated in three different villages: Rind (supported by the diaspora in Thailand), Areni (New Zealand) and Shatin (Australia). It’s an innovation intended to prepare villages for tourism and encourage the young to stay. Should we wait until the villages depopulate and die, vulnerable to those who desire our homeland?
If you would like to learn more about the Armenian Church-endorsed AAV Project, please check out the information at http://originsdiscovery.com/Adopt-a-Village.html, and contact Len through his website contacts. On the news page you can see the interviews about AAV on Armenian TV.