By: Christine Soussa
A few months ago (WOW time flies!) I took a trip to Armenia! This was my first trip. It was a short, influential and incredibly busy trip. I was in Armenia for only 6 days. It was important for me meet with our AIWA-SF partners, leaders and supporters. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with many of the families, children and individuals who directly benefit from the support of our initiatives. Seeing how our work changes lives was incredibly moving. My first trip was absolutely incredible, I will be back soon! Over a series of posts I will share insights and notes of my meetings in Armenia.
Upon arrival, one of my first meetings was with Ani Jilozian, a dear friend and Public health specialist, who works closely with AIWA-SF, we had our meeting at the Women’s Support Center in Yerevan. As we entered the office I was incredibly moved, within the warmth of the cozy and professional office, incredibly difficult and heroic work is done…
AIWA has been a longtime supporter of the Women’s Support Center, a full-service domestic violence prevention center with services that include a 24-hour hotline, psychological counseling, a safe house, life and parenting skills education, vocational counseling, legal assistance, professional training, and educational and advocacy programs for women and girls.
The staff at the Women’s Support Center provides women with practical tools to identify domestic violence, discern the warning signs, and learn safety plans in order to combat it. Their comprehensive shelter program gives abused women and children the opportunity to recover fully in privacy and safety. They also collaborate with a variety of organizations to offer vocational and business training, and provide employment assistance. Today, as a result of their efforts, the majority of our beneficiaries do not return to their abusers, and hundreds of women have successfully reintegrated into society.
During my time at the Women’s Support Center, I saw firsthand the work they do, and it was deeply moving. I met women who found the courage to leave their abusive relationship and receive the support and safety needed to live the life they deserve. Years and sometimes decades of abuse hardens one’s heart, sprit, and soul. The warmth, love, and energy that exudes from the Women’s Support Center is the reason why these women and their children are finally able to recognize that their life doesn’t need to be subjected to abuse. The work they do is heartwarming. Each success story, each woman and family that has a second chance in life inspires and overwhelms our hearts.