NEF 2004 Annual Report - Near East Foundation

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NEF 2004 Annual Report - Near East Foundation

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After over 75 years, the Near East Foundation has

returned to Armenia—where NEF started, working with

Armenian survivors of the 1915 massacre until our

expulsion by the Soviets in 1927. Chair Linda K.

Jacobs, Ph.D. made a whirlwind exploratory trip in

April, meeting with major figures in children’s social

service and development assistance as well as in

religion, government and art. Her mission: to help socalled

“street kids” improve their lives and the lives of

their families.

Forty-eight percent of Armenians live below the poverty line and many families are not able to

adequately care for their children. Although Armenia had been the “Silicon Valley” of the Soviet

Union, when the Soviet system collapsed and Armenia became independent, markets dried up.

Adding further economic burdens, the country is blockaded on two sides by Azerbaijan and

Turkey, and in 1988 suffered a devastating earthquake from which it has yet to fully recover.

Partnering with Canada-based Street Kids

International at a June follow-up, NEF hosted 45

professionals involved with Armenian children and

youth. They participated in our two-day workshop

held in the capital city of Yerevan. The topic under

discussion: how best to communicate with

adolescents about major issues as drugs, sex, AIDS—

all so vital to their well-being. Presentations and

materials were in Russian with feedback and

translation in Armenian for this cohesive and highlyeducated

group. They will report back on what

worked for them and what didn’t in September,

when NEF returns and makes decisions on how best

to proceed next. “Street kids have many assets to

work with—‘street smarts,’ ambition, responsibility,

entrepreneurial skills, to name a few,” according to

Dr. Jacobs, who added, “And we’re very experienced

doing this kind of community development work in

many places.”

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