By Cara Taylor
YEREVAN — Armenia’s “Velvet Revolution” made history when peaceful protests in spring 2018 unseated Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan, after years of entrenched one-party rule and corruption. Way-Out Alliance leader Nikol Pashinyan was elected prime minister of Armenia on May 8. Davit Khajakyan, a Yerevan city councilman and head of the Way-Out caucus, is part of the reform movement.
People have wondered how post-Soviet Armenia accomplished what seemed impossible. Unlike Davit, many young people have been leaving Armenia due to lack of opportunity.
One explanation lies with the quiet work of faith-based Jinishian Memorial Foundation. JMF has developed a nationwide strategy to empower young change-agents like Davit to generate opportunity themselves. It starts with giving them a chance to see with new eyes. Through debate clubs and community development grants, young people learn to think independently and work together to fix social and economic problems.
In Davit’s words
“Since my early youth in 2002, I have been participating in the Jinishian Memorial Foundation’s (JMF) civil society development projects. My early engagement started at Jinishian’s student debates project, where I quickly mastered debating skills beyond what I could develop in my pure technical education.
“I turned out to be an active team player, and with our Yerevan team, we won the first prize at the national debate championship. I became active in TV debates organized by JMF and continually worked on developing my knowledge and skills.
“Meanwhile, I was active in JMF’s Civil Dialogue and Action (CDA) project where I carried out many initiatives by enhancing my organizational and administrative abilities.
“In 2014, I along with my fellows launched “I’m opposed” civil movement. Due to skills I obtained on JMF projects I started to get into hot debates with prominent experts and government officials on different topics.
“In 2015 I got involved in politics and became a founding member of the Bright Armenia party. During the 2017 Parliamentary elections, I led the party’s pre-election office and became a member of the Way-Out Alliance, which successfully secured seats in Parliament. In the same year, at the municipal elections, I was elected as a member in Yerevan City Council as head of the Way-Out caucus.
“Nowadays, I am entirely engaged in civil-political activities, working peacefully to hold the Yerevan mayor accountable. Often, I am invited as a guest speaker at different settings where I apply the skills learned from JMF educational projects.
I continue to collaborate with JMF where I share my experience with other students who seek their way to success.”
The Jinishian Memorial Program began in Aleppo, Syria in 1966 to meet the needs of the post-genocide Armenian population. Today JMP reaches more than 70,000 people each year in seven locations, often where other organizations won’t go — 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. Your gift today will make a lasting impact in Syria. Each small act of mercy can empower someone for life.
…from poverty and despair
to self-sufficiency and hope
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