Visiting the Chambarak Child Friendly Space
Communications Officer conducts a field visit to a Child Friendly Space, within the ECHO Project in Armenia.
This is the third of three articles, where Mie Bertelsen, Action Against Hunger’s Communications Officer, describes her experiences from a field visit to the Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) in Armenia. These are a part of the Multi-Functional Centres, under the Programme “Ensuring access to essential protection services for displaced people from Nagorno-Karabakh in Armenia” funded by EU Humanitarian Aid and implemented by Action Against Hunger, HALO Trust, Partnership & Teaching and Mission Armenia. Click here to the first and second articles.
On Tuesday, 31st May 2022, I visited the Chambarak Child Friendly Space run by Mission Armenia, located close to the border with Azerbaijan. This CFS hosts families from neighbouring towns, as well as those displaced from the border. Originally, this centre was a soup kitchen for the elderly, managed by Mission Armenia, however it now hosts non-formal IT and English lessons, psychosocial support, legal aid and mobile services for 12 children who are unable to come to the CFS. The children participate in individual and group activities, as well as activities with the elderly attendees, such as cleaning days within the local area. When visiting, the younger children were practicing a performance that they would be doing the following day (1st June), in front of both their parents, the older children and the elderly attendees.
The younger children practicing their ucoming performance.
The psychosocial therapist reports that there are 13 children in the CFS who receive specialised services (physio-, psychosocial and speech therapy). Of these, nine receive individual psychological counselling, and three group sessions are offered: one for the children receiving individual support; one for the displaced children; and one counselling group open for all the children.
Two girls participating in the art therapy sessions, in the next room.
The parents of children attending the centre report say that their children were very isolated, had issues communicating and were reluctant to be separated from their parents. However, with the group and individual services offered to both the parents and children, they have become communicative, relaxed, and much more independent. These differences have also been noticed by family and friends outside the CFS, as well as the kindergarten and schools. The parents value the care, attention and support that the CFS provides, with one parent saying “I’m not a child, but even I don’t want to go back home!”
Above: Two of the older children participating in exercises during the nonformal English lesson. Below: Erik (right) and his classmate, also at the same nonformal lesson.
To read about 17-year-old Erik, and his opinion on the CFS, as well as see more pictures, have a look at our Facebook page.