Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Time Flies When You're Working Like Crazy!

The last blog posted was some months ago, in the depths of winter in Yerevan.  That seems like light years ago.  So just to catch us up to speed, hold on tight, it's going to be a long one!

The dolls of Talin Women's Resource Center Foundation are taking off!  Four months of 'no, sorry, not good enough, body too skinny, head too big, eyes too far apart, it doesn't stand properly, please do it again' have resulted in a fabulous series of dolls from the Armenian communities of Khotorjour, Vasourakan, Sebastia, Moush, and others.  In all, we hope to create a series of at least a dozen women and their male counterparts, each of them bearing information about how many Armenians lived there, what their main areas of work was, etc.  Already, the Armenian National Gallery and Khor Virap Church have shown interest in having these in their souvenir shops.

This week the Talin Women's Resource Center Foundation has been officially registered.  Their goal will be to spread information on issues of child health, nutrition, hygiene and other issues concerning the women of  Talin. Already they have meet with Mission East and a Finnish organization that focus on disabled children.  The future looks bright in Talin, thanks to Gayane Khachatryan and Peace Corps volunteer Brian Bokhart, both mentioned in an earlier blog here.

And then there is the Berd Bears from Berd Women's Resource Center Foundation!  Taking off in a spectacular way on Kickstarter, we surpassed our contribution budget in only about 30 hours after it was launched.  Exciting times in Berd!

Also focused in Berd and the Shamshadin region where it is located is a new initiative that we are calling the Shamshadin Development Initiative.  The whole idea is to launch a whole series of projects that together will lift the Shamshadin region up a few notches economically and thereby give that region more jobs, more activity, more optimisme.  So far, dozens of individuals and organizations have shown interest and are actively participating.  Not wanting to delve too much into details here, be sure to follow the Homeland Handicrafts page on Facebook.

And always new, interesting little crocheted animals coming out of the Goris Women's Resource Center Foundation.  These sea creatures were requested by a client marketing them in Dubai.  Also a Norwegian client has ordered hundreds of the 50 or so different animals made by these hard-working women.  Presently, we are working on getting one of Armenia's largest milk product producers to market the cute little cow made by them.  The list of possibilities for these animals is long, very long, and the orders keep coming in.

The women in Vardenis are very busy churning out quantities of their sewn products, which have been selling smoothly since their launch in February.  The challenge there has been finding enough fabric to keep up with the demand.  The sky fabric on this one, for example is nowhere to be found in Yerevan, as is the striped material used as a background on the pomegranate series.  Still, the baby blankets in both wool and satin with the same Ararat theme on them are flying off the shelf.  We are happy and glad for the ladies in Vardenis!

And in Gyumri, there has been great success with baby booties made of hand made felt.  What a tedious, difficult process making felt is!  Hours and hours of hands in soapy water, getting the fibers to entwine and hold together.  A small shipment has already gone to the U.S., and more orders have come in here in Armenia.  I am so happy that we discovered the Shirak Diocese Social Educational Center, thanks to Peace Corps Volunteer John Kelly.  These products have a bright future, as items for babies are hard to find in Armenia.

Chinchin, our lovely Chinchin!  Hasmik there is busy at work making the second of these gorgeous Armenian alphabet bedspreads in a month.  And little does she know that there is a third one in the pipeline. This is an intensive piece of work, taking three solid weeks to make.  A massive 2,4 meters square, I have one that I have been using for over 10 years, and am in love with.  I took it up to Chinchin a couple months back and asked her to reproduce it.  Imagine, an order for 15 of these or so would keep her busy for an entire year!

Well, that was a lot, way too much, actually!  Thanks for tagging along for the ride....  There is so much so incredibly positive stuff going on, that I can hardly keep my head above water.  For anybody coming to Armenia this summer, you are most welcome to contact me for a cup of coffee, or perhaps a visit to one of our projects.  They would love it, I would love it, you would love it!