By Simone Paklaian and Alexa Sapah-Gulian
NEW YORK — We are both high school students who live in Connecticut and spend the summers on Cape Cod, where we work at Eulindas, a local ice cream shop. But this summer wasn’t like the past 10 we’ve spent at the Cape. This summer we made the decision to go to Armenia during a portion of our break, work at the Child Protection Center, and then create a documentary about it to develop global awareness.
When we first heard about the Child Protection Center, which is run by the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR), we felt that the work being accomplished was very important and we decided to get involved.
Through our research, we learned that this was a one-of-a-kind center in Armenia, which is responsible for protecting abused children on a short-term basis until long-term plans can be set. It is a program that originated in conjunction with the Yerevan Police Department, which, in earlier days, routinely picked up abandoned children off the streets and placed them in facilities — facilities that didn’t address the long-term needs of the children.
This Child Protection Center program fills that void by not only providing for the physical needs of the children, but also by addressing their psychological issues and long-term prospects. Instead of placing them in orphanages, the Center looks to re-unite them with their families, where and when appropriate, or to a loving foster home as a better solution.
Since this program first started more than 10 years ago, it had grown to the point that the Center’s Hotline and National Referral Network has brought in more children that are in desperate need of a second chance than the original police efforts did. Since the program was started, it has helped over 6,000 children, most of whom are between 4- and 16-years-old.