By Cara Taylor | Jinishian Memorial Program
Poverty often leaves children vulnerable, not only physically but emotionally and socially as well.
Yester is a young girl who has grown up in an orphanage without the love and care of a family. Her aggressive nature isolated her from peers.
To help kids like Yester, the Jinishian Memorial Program in Armenia initiated Play It Fair! This human rights education project is reaching thousands of children in urban schools and summer camps with a very personal impact. It features games led by caring facilitators and is designed to give groups of at-risk kids a chance to cooperate and to experience giving and receiving kindness.
Before the program, the young participants will report feelings of confusion, rejection and failure such as,
“I want to play with my classmates, but I don’t know how to join them. They always ignore me.”
“They humiliate me. I always lose.”
When Yester came to Play It Fair, she chose to join in and discovered that she felt accepted. In that safe environment of trust, Yester broke through her isolation and shared her feelings of abandonment with her peers.
After the games, the facilitators observed kids including one another, overcoming destructive behaviors, and putting these new habits and new confidence into practice. They have been encouraged to hear a very different testimony from the kids who had arrived in such a dejected state. The children have appropriated for themselves a sense of hope and possibility:
“I am very happy to learn that I and my friends have rights.”
“I will respect everyone just because they are human beings.”
“I must protect the rights of others. Life is beautiful when it is colorful and diverse.”
Play It Fair is a life-changing experience for kids and gives the Jinishian program coordinators hope for the future of Armenia. Young Armenians today represent the first generation to grow up after communist times. Against many odds, they are reclaiming their Christian heritage and seeking a different life from the oppressive regimes surrounding them. Since independence in Armenia, the Jinishian Memorial Program has been a leading nonprofit bringing economic, social and faith-based revitalization throughout Armenia for three decades. Play It Fair is part of their core mission to build up next-generation leaders who are guided by compassion, ingenuity and hope.
The Jinishian Memorial Program began in 1966 to meet the needs of the post-genocide Armenian population in the Middle East. Today JMP reaches more than 65,000 people each year in seven locations — Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Artsakh and Georgia. The leadership and staff are 100 percent local and unite across Apostolic, Catholic and Evangelical traditions to share God’s love with the most vulnerable.
Give securely online to support the Jinishian Memorial Program. For children living with poverty who are so often overlooked, gifts to support the work of the Jinishian Memorial Program helps give them a chance at a different life.