Friday, December 22

Merry X-mas

To our dear families, friends, collegues and neighbours:

We whish you a wonderful, peaceful and joyful christmas filled with a lot of love and laughter!
Best whishes from Rannveig & Kaja in Armenia

PS: The pictures are from Jermuk, a wonderful Armenian village 2 200 meter above sea level. All the snow made us christmas moody! :)

Good bye, bye, bye, tatik Emma!

We have spent one month in Yeghegnadzor village sharing an appartment with tatik ("granny") Emma. Most of the days we had a lot of fun due to language problems, old facilities and a joyful old lady.

Yesterday, we put up the christmas tree and decorated the hall where we have spent most of the time when not in bed watching a DVD or sleeping... (Because the gas oven is situated in the hall...) We laughed a lot decorating each other and the fake silver christmas tree from Russia.

The bathroom with no hot water and the toilet without a flush has been a tiny little challenge for two Norwegian girls spoiled with modern facilities, but we have managed very well, I think.

We are glad that tatik Emma shared her house with us this month, and we will visit her again for sure next year! (She lives in the appartment with the blue plastic on the balkony.)

Then we will practice more armenian and english words with our tatik Emma. On Monday when we are going back to Yerevan, we will all say Emmas famous english fraze:

"Good bye, bye, bye!"
(Wich is often being used insted of good night...) :)

Tuesday, December 19

Beautiful Beads for needs SOLD

Our Bead sale last Friday went pretty well. We managed to raise a lot of money thanks to beautiful jewleries and positive customers. The money will be spent on children living in dormitories in Yerevan.

Exactly how much money we raised, I do not know. But I will tell you when I do... (It is not yet counted...)

The evening started with some speeches from the Red Cross, me included. I said some of it in Armenian, and it went OK, I guess... I told a bit about the Smiley Club project which started some 4 years ago with the ideas of two Armenian delegates in Sogn and Fjordane, Norway.

The Smiley Club volunteers visit the children in the dormitories, help them with their homework and play with them. They also take them out to the theatre, amusement park, summer camp and events. With the money from the Bead sale on Friday, the Armenian Red Cross can arrange New Year events for even more children from the dormitory.

On one of the walls in the restaurant, we had a picture exhibition showing the Smiley Club project and the living condition in one of the dormitories. We put the pictures on the wall to increase knowledge about refugees in Yerevan and to show people what they support if they buy jewleries from us.

Some of our lovely Red Cross girls had a mini catwalk before the sale which was really cool. They showed some of the most beautiful jewleries, and tempted the guests to buy..

My favourite jewlery was this one, "the Planet jewlery". After the mini show, it was bougth by the Norwegian council, Tim Straight. I guess he has a pretty good taste... :)

Thursday, December 14

Luxury in the region

On the highest hill in Yeghegnadzor lives a wonderful couple from Canada.

They have been helping Armenins the last three years, and this week they shared some of their many stories and a lovely meal with Kaja and me.

Antoine, Armenian, and Sheila, originally from Scotland have a wonderful home in Armenia. The fireplace was amazeing, and we felt really warm for the first time in many weeks! Antoine have had projects on tree-planting, honey-export ans is a volunteer adviser. Sheila teaches English at the university in Yeghegnadzor, and support local handcraft such as sewing and wooden basket making.

They have lived in Egypt and travelled a lot. Interesting to hear their experience and advice. And they gave us excellent food, red wine and Armenian cognac. We brought Norwegian Melkesjokolade and Linie Akevit which they said was good! Skaal!

Antione shared a pomegranate (armenian: NORR) with us, and showed us the correct way of cutting it. It is a certain trick in order not to damage the berries and make a big mess at the table...

Inside, there are 365 berries in each fruit, one for each day...

It was some hours of luxury for both the body and mind for Kaja and me. Shat shnorhakalotion, Sheila jev Antione: Thank you very much!

Warming gifts

A new knitting group in Yeghegnadzor Red Cross Youth is making gifts for Armenian refugees from Asjerbajdsjan. Next year, 20 of them will get a gift that really warms.

The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) gives 1 000 AMD for each present (some 2,5 $), and we have decided that we will buy knitting stuff for this money. We are now knitting scarfs, pulswarmers etc and will attach nice beads on them in the end.

The group now consists of 6-7 girls, and most of them knows how to knit. Our new leader Anoush even knitted her own sweater! Respect in the knitting world! I am teaching how to knit "right" and "wrong" (okey, I know that these words probably are not proper English words, but I guess you all understand...).

The office at the Red Cross is too cold for knitting (only 14 degrees....), so we use a room at the Vayat Dzor region Civil Center instead. We can use the room three times a week, and it is quite warm. It is not big but we do not need a lot of space, and I am glad that we can share their space.

On Sundays, we are planning to visit some of the elderly people (tatiknere jev papiknere: grandmothers and grandfathers) and knit with them. Hopefully, we will all enjoy it, and maybe they even can teach us some old Armenian patterns! :)

Local work in Armenian Red Cross

We are helping the local Armenian Red Cross to be prepared for disasters!

Yeghegnadzor Red Cross Branch visit elderly people and have trainings in disaster management and first aid on a regular basis. Kaja and me are participating in their local projects to learn more about the Armenian Red Cross in general and also to help them with their everyday tasks. The group of helpers is a really great and proud team!

The volunteers from the disaster management group and first aiders from 3 regions had recently a training competition near the river in Yeghegnadzor. Once agian, I was a victim in a car accident and I also had some fake injuries. The volunteers took really good care of me, and it was a nice feeling to be taken such good care for of in the middle of nowhere...

Once a month, some of the volunteers visit elderly people who have little money to spend on food and personal hygiene and bring them two yellow bags. In the bags there are for instance macaroni, tea, beans, rice and soaps. The bags we packed in the office, 28 bags all in all.

The women were really glad to see us (they are all women...guess they live the longest in this country!), and all of them offered us coffee... Although they have very little food and money, they still wanted to share whatever they had with us. Really nice people!

Tuesday, December 5

Verdens AIDS-dag med politi-eskorte

Rundt 80 unge gikk sammen i gatene i Yeghegnadzor paa Verdens AIDS-dag. Foran oss kjorte det lokale politiet for aa sikre oss fri vei gjennom hovedgatene.

Ikke vanlig kost at gatene blir sperra av for en stor menneske masse paa landsbygda i Armenia, saa vi fikk mange blikk fra folk paa gata og studentente glante fra skolevinduene. Vayat Dzor Civil center med Oxfam stilte ogsaa med plakater i paraden for aa vise at hiv-smitten maa stoppes. Naa!!!

Over 60 unge ble med paa aktivitetene paa Ungdomsenteret etter marsjen, og overraskende mange turte aa vaere med paa diskusjonene og de kom med mange spoersmaal om hiv og AIDS.

Halvveis i programmet hadde vi hiv-quiz, og 31 svarte riktig paa ALLE spoersmaalene! Det ble premiert med t-skjorter fra Armenia Roede Kors og kule Timeout-kondomer fra Norges Roede Kors. Stas!

Det er klart man blir stolt av aa vaere en aktiv Roede Korser paa en saann dag.....