YEREVAN — December 5 is the International Volunteer Day. Thanks to the efforts of Birthright Armenia and Armenian Volunteer Corps (AVC) programs, in 2021 the number of volunteers who arrived in Armenia is almost equal to the data of 2019: 215 participants from Birthright Armenia, 80 participants from AVC program․ Despite the post-war difficulties and the 2020 pandemic the volunteers are determined to come to Armenia and volunteer their time and knowledge, doing their best to be useful for the country.
Birthright Armenia, which has been operating in Armenia since 2004, was founded by American-Armenian philanthropist Edele Hovnanian. To date, about 2,300 Diaspora Armenian youth, aged 21-32, have participated in long-term volunteer programs through Birthright Armenia. Diaspora Armenians over the age of 32 and foreigners over the age of 21 came to Armenia through AVC, Birthright Armenia’s sister organization. After finishing the program, 10 percent of the overall number of the participants have settled in Armenia. The main goal of the organization in 2022 is to double the number of volunteers arriving in Armenia, mainly targeting the countries with large Armenian diasporas, such as Russia and France.
In the framework of Birthright Armenia, until 2021 the majority of the program volunteers were from the United States (50 percent). However, this year, as participants from the United States continue to make up the majority of program participants, the program has diversified the volunteer demographics, with a growing percentage of participants from Europe and South America, especially from France and Argentina. In 2019, the number of participants from France comprised 5․1 percent of the volunteers of the whole program, and in 2021 – 13 percent. The number of volunteers from Canada increased by 3 percent, and from Argentina by 1 percent in 2021.
“The authorities of most of our partner organizations unanimously note that volunteers bring fresh breath to Armenia, new approach, creative ideas and changes. As a result of working with locals, the exchange of experience becomes inevitable. I can cite many examples where the experience, ideas and the professional approach of our volunteers have been a turning point in the success of organizations. After the end of the program, the alumni of the program often establish close ties with the workplaces, making the support and the exchange of experience continuous,” says Narine Mkhoyan, the Jobsite Placement Manager of Birthright Armenia.
The organization cooperates with about 1100 local and international organizations in Armenia, providing work for volunteers in various fields. “Christopher had a great seminar with us, which received positive feedback from our participants. Based on the wonderful work he did, we decided to offer him a job at Tumo Studio. I think Christopher’s path is an excellent example of Birthright Armenia’s mission,” wrote Aram Gyumishyan, Product Designer at Tumo Center for Creative Technologies about Christopher Karaguezyan, a Lebanese-Armenian volunteer 3D Modeling Specialist.
Nutritional Basics in Gyumri, the US, Diandra Ajemian, participant of Birthright Armenia