Armenia’s third-largest city, Vanadzor was devastated by the 1988 earthquake. In its wake, temporary homes (domiks) were erected to house families during the rebuilding process. However, the reconstruction never reached many of these citizens. Instead, many became life-long residents of these shelters that were intended to stand only briefly and then be torn down. Living in destitution, these people were virtually cut off from participation in Vanadzor’s economic, cultural, and civic life.
With help from the Vanadzor Center for Human Rights Protection, the youth of this shantytown have learned to participate in addressing larger problems weighing on their communities. Meetings with elected officials, local clergy, artists, and various professionals—as well as a range of lectures and classes—develop their ability to leverage their social resources to break the cycle of neglect and deterioration that has plagued them for years.
The Tufenkian Foundation helped launch the Vanadzor Center for Human Rights Protection, providing it not only with funds but with feedback, guidance, oversight, and other forms of support. Today, the center operates independently and self-sufficiently.