- Resilience Building and Empowerment -
The Kazakh region of Azerbaijan is on the frontline in a state of war-induced tension with Armenia and the surrounding area is contaminated by landmines. Residents of the villages in the region contend with poverty and a sense of alienation from the centre of the country. It is difficult to find employment due to the harsh economic situation and most families subsist on raising cattle and working the land.
Together with the Azerbaijan Red Crescent (AzRC), Tag developed a project to enhance community resilience while providing concrete skills. In May 2012, Tag and AzRC professionals travelled to Kazakh and training workshops in First Aid, Health Promotion and Outdoor Training were held for local trainees. The workshops were provided by AzRC experts Drs. Matanat Garakhanova and Shahin Bilandarli, Farid/David Applebaum, a senior Magen David Adom (MDA) paramedic, and outdoor trainer Maayan Fux from Time2Play in Israel. Graduates of the training then travelled to six frontline villages in the region every week, one village a day for six days, bringing health and resilience-building community skills and tools to children, youth and adults. An award-winning master weaver (Minaya Allahverdiyeva who was twice elected as a deputy of the USSR Supreme Soviet), was commissioned to teach her specialty to girls and women.
The project was launched with an opening ceremony at AzRC headquarters in Baku, in the presence of Tag Founder and Chairman Rabbi Dr Yossi Ives, AzRC Vice President Gafar Asgarzade, Israeli Ambassador Michael Lotem, Deputy Head of Mission Ronen Krausz, representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA), and the Azerbaijan Campaign to Ban Landmines (AzCBL). National media broadcast the ceremony throughout Azerbaijan.
- 120 government employees participated in a First Aid/Health Promotion course
- 15 local people received training and employment
- 60 young girls and women learned the traditional craft of carpet weaving
- 400+ children and teens participated in outdoor training
- 1,500 were impacted directly
- Equipment was provided for first aid, weaving and outdoor training
- The local branch of the Kazakh AzRC received a computer, printer and camera
In the First Aid/Health Promotion groups, participants included staff from village medical points, school principals, teachers and civil servants. Children and teenagers participated in the Outdoor Training (ODT)groups, enjoying games designed to contribute to team building and leadership development. Although there had been doubts that girls would participate in the ODT activities, in fact in five of the six villages we were delighted that there were groups of girls as well. And the weaving lessons, which were added to ensure that there would be an activity culturally appropriate for girls, proved tremendously successful among girls, teens and women of all ages. It was a wonderful surprise and added benefit that this project sparked a renewal of the ancient craft of carpet-weaving, which Azerbaijani women say “runs in their veins.”
The evaluation team learned that the arrival of the van was eagerly anticipated, that most participants felt the sessions were too short and that all would be happy to continue the activities and build on what was achieved. In fact, the local project manager and Tag saw to it that looms were built and donated to the village schools, along with tools and yarn, so that the new weavers may continue to work on their rugs. AzRC and Tag are hoping to replicate the project in additional vulnerable villages along the border.
Celebrating Youth Day with frontline children
As the next phase in our project, three thousand children in frontline villages in Azerbaijan received schoolbags and school supplies thanks to the partnership between Tag and Ve’ahavta, the Canadian Jewish Humanitarian and Relief Committee. Festive ceremonies were held and the schoolbags containing school supplies were distributed by Azerbaijan Red Crescent to children in villages and rural communities on Youth Day (February 2).