Thursday, April 26

Remembering the Armenian Genocide

24th of April is the Genocide Memorial Day in Armenia. We laid down flowers at the Memorial site to remember that hundreds of thousands of Armenians were persecuted and killed by Turks in 1915.
In one of the hills in Yerevan, there is a monument which has an Eternity Flame. On the circle around this flame thousands of people put flowers last Tuesday to show that they remember the Genocide of their ancestors. For Kaja and me it was very interesting to see how the Armenians mark the Memorial Day, and we went there with our two Armenian friends Emma and Lia who told us about the site and the history. The weather was horrible: snowing and raining the whole day. Nevertheless, people kept coming from morning to night. From the speakers on the long way to the Memorial site, we could hear mourning music, and several TV-companies broadcasted the ceremony during the day.
In the afternoon, we visited our Norwegian friends Kirsten and Tom and their daughter Ragnhild Helen. They served us coffee and Norwegian waffles with brown cheese. Just what we needed after the cold day! :)

Spring in Yerevan!?!

The weather in Yerevan has been very strange lately. In the middle of April we had some 20 degrees, however, some days later it snowed!
During one of the sunny days, the girls from the office met in Cascade and had a nice lunch with Lusine, one of the Armenian youth delegates in Norway. (With the big bag to the left..) She works for the Norwegian Red Cross in Arendal for the time beeing, but is now spending two weeks of holiday in her home country. She came on a surprise-visit, which made many people happy!

It is green in Armenian now, and the Apricot trees are very beautiful with their white flowers. (The first picture). When it is warm enough, we often sit out, having dinner with our friends. Shat nice!!!I hope we will have more sunny days in Cascade and the restaurants near the Opera. Inchallah!!

Saturday, April 14

Basketball tournament against hiv

- The tournament is a mix of info and fun, says the youth leader in Tavush, David Asilbekyan (21). Together with the local Red Cross Youth he has initiated a basketball tournament against hiv/aids for pupils in Ijevan.

Five schools were participating with their own boy team from 8th and 9th grade. During two days they played against each other with classmates and teachers as eager audience. On the walls were big posters with information about hiv-transmission and transmission numbers. There where hundreds of leaflets about condoms, hiv and aids on a table outside.

In an old sports hall without tribunes there where little space, and both trainers and pupils were screaming and cheering for their school teams. The boys from school number 3 impressed from the very beginning, and beat school number 1 with 14 points versus 0.
Before the finals, 14 year old Artsrun Shahinyan from school number 3 thought his team would win the whole tournament. And he was right! His team won all their games, and got sweatshirts from the Armenian Red Cross as prizes.

- I think it was interesting and fun to play against other school teams, and I want to thank the ones who organized this tournament, says Artsrun.

This tournament is also about hiv-awareness, and Artsrun knows that aids is a deadly illness. He also knows that condoms protects against hiv.
Artsons thanks goes to among others David Asilbekyan who is the youth leader in Tavush. He invited all the schools in Ijevan, and all the gym teachers said yes. He is satisfied with the fact that all teams showed up, and says it is the first time that they have arranged such a tournament

- This tournament against hiv is a new way to inform people about hiv, and I hope they read the posters and take leaflets home, says David. – And of course I hope the pupils are having fun!

David goes to Norway as youth delegate this summer, and he would like to initiate a similar tournament there.

The Churches of Gosh

During our stay in Dilijan for the hiv-seminars, we also visited the Nor Getik Monastery close by: Goshavank.
It is a beautiful monastery consisting of 5 churches. Fact line from my Garden-city Ijevan guide:

"Mkhitar Gosh, one of the foremost Armenian intellectuals from the Middle Ages, founded the Nor Getik Monastery in 1188. At first he had a wooden church built, which was named St. Gregory and was ceremonially anointed."

Our guide told us that the most beautiful cross stone in all Armenia is situated at Goshavank. I have only seen a few hundred (!), but I can imagine that she is right...

After his death, one of his disciples, Priest Martoros constructed new buildings including a library. He initiated the monastery as it is today. Gosh was burried on a hill close to Goshavank, with a beautiful view!

Those interested in reliogion, history and architecture are recommended a trip to Armenia!

Hiv-info for more nurse students

The local Red Cross in Ijevan and I also held a seminar for the nurse students in Dilijan, the neighbouring little town of Ijevan.
It went well; the students did well on the quiz and were quite active in the discussion about sex before marriage, transmission and stigma.

But the answers where quite the same as I have heard several times before in Armenia: girls should wait until marriage before they have sex, but boys on the other hand should have some experience. This seem to be the overall opinion of both boys and girls in Armenia.
In these debates, I always say that from the Red Cross point of view, it is always up to each person, both boy and girl, to decide if and when they want to have sex. And when ready, it is of course important to use condoms if you are at risk of STIs and hiv! :)

While we where in Dilijan (35 km from Ijevan) we also held a mini seminar for the local volunteers in a class room. (The age gap was quite big, but even the eldest woman enjoyed the chair game!)

We hope that they will visit the local schools in Dilijan to spread more info about hiv and sexual health.

Sjaa snuten!!!

What a cute puppy!!! This street puppy we fed with sour cream at the stairs outside our RC office in Ijevan.
That is why his snout is white... :)

Vet dere hva dette er?

Har dere noen gang sett en saann dings foer?? Det er en russisk te-maskin!!

Jeg gikk nesten i fistel da jeg fikk se denne maskina hjemme hos en av de frivillige i Ijevan. Vi fikk foerst servert mange salater, erter, egg og kylling, deretter dessert med frukt, honning, sjokkis og TE fra den russiske maskina... Og jeg fikk helle oppi teen! Med bestemor og mor i huset som tilskuere.
Koselig kveld med piano, trekkspill og armensk gjestfrihet. Jeg fikk drikke fra dronning-koppen! :)

PS: en cola eller halvliter til den foerste som vet NAVNET paa denne russiske te-maskina... Send svar paa bloggen min! (comment). :)

We informed +250 pupils about hiv!

During my one month stay in the small town Ijevan in the north east of Armenia, the local Red Cross Youth and I informed totally 17 classes in 5 schools. That makes at least 250 pupils! Maladets! :)
In addition to these school kids, we also informed several students in both Ijevan and the neighbouring little town, Dilijan.

Friday, April 13

House of Hospitality

My Red Cross colleague Lusine lives with her father, mother and grandmother in a house with a big garden. They have invited me many times, and I got some interesting hours in this house full of food and warmness... And a taste of Russian history and culture!
I have had many meals and coffee cups there, and one day I brought a waffle iron from Norway! The whole family and our friends were very happy, and said it was tasty... :) They will now try to find a waffle iron in Yerevan...

Lusines grandmother is from Russia, and they speak Russian with her. I only know a few Russian words, so the communication was a bit difficult... but she understands Armenian, and with me she tried to speak Armenian. She knows all the words, but since she never speaks it, I could see that she struggled to find the words.
Lusines mother and Lusine and Hermine translated into Armenian, and when I did not understand, Lusines mother said the word in French. All in all it worked somehow, and I found out that the Babushka had been living in Armenia for 57 years (she "wrote" the number with her long fingernail on the kitchen table for me to "read"), she has been skiing in Siberia and living different places in Russia. She also told me a story from the 2. WW:
According to the Babushka, the Norwegian saved some Russian soldiers from the Germans, they where shipwrecked after their submarine was hit. If this was the story in reality I do not know, since there is a big risk of misunderstandings... But her point was that the Norwegians helped Russian soldiers during the war.

She also told me about Russian traditions during Eastern. They have this cake that is fresh for 40 days, and after the Lady Bird day (7th of April) they visit the church yard and put crumbles from the cake on the graves. They also leave eggs and cakes for the dead people to eat...
We also spent some nice hours under the sun on the balcony in front of the garden, which have to be very beautiful during summer! They grow wine grapes on the balcony, and herbs, fruits and berries in the garden.

Sunday, April 8

Palm Sunday in the hills

On Palm Sunday I went hiking with some friends in Tavush, an Armenian region on the border of Azerbaijan where I am working for the time being. Nice to get some fresh air and view!

David, Arman, Gugo and Sasha from the local Red Cross (volunteers) and Justin from the American Peace Corps were my hiking companions for the day, and our goal was to reach the little chapel on the top of one of the hills.
Very tiny, old church. We had a little picknik there, with Sashas dog! (Can you see her?!)

About 20 000 lives in Ijevan (I guess less since many people have left the last years...), and it is a very green place on earth.

It reminds me of the landscape of "Heartbeat". :)
But it is full of garbage, sadly... :(

And happy pigs!!

Tuesday, April 3

Norwegian KEF!

Armenians love celebrations and party, KEF in Armenian... (or is it Russian?!). I had a Norwegian Kef last Friday with the Red Cross Youth volunteers in Ijevan. Main ingrediens: WAFFLES!!

We listened to some Norwegian music (Gitarkameratene, Grandiosa-sangen (ha,ha) and different pop singers.. Gaute! :)) and danced and ate a lot of vafler! Which they said was "shat hamova", very tasty!!

I borrowed the waffle iron from Harald and Ragnhild, my Norwegian friends in Yerevan. (Tusen takk!) Hermine helped me make them, she did well!!

The volunteers of Ijevan Red Cross are the happiest volunteers I have ever met... For this reason I made a toast for them, and they had several for me...
Some of the boys like to sing, and had a caraoke... I had a quiz about Armenia and Norway before they left (at 21.30), with Melkesjokolade as the prize for all my Red Cross friends! Maladietz! Aprenk!