In 2011, Patrick Sarkissian decided to build a solution to the growing cynicism around donating to charitable causes in Armenia. Because of the inconvenient truth about Armenia’s struggles with corruption and the increasing number of broken promises and unfinished projects in the non-profit sector, a move toward transparency was imminent. ONE Armenia was created in response to this need, and as its team grew, focusing on the active, tech-savvy youth seemed only natural.
Narek Khachatryan is a member of ONE Armenia team who has been doing fund raising for different issues and matters in Armenia. Due to his dedication and hard work many projects have been accomplished. We decided to have a friendly talk with Narek to discover more about his past and his future plans and projects in Armenia.
– When did you get the idea of fund raising for Armenia?
It was truly spontaneous and unexpected; one day this idea just pumped in my head that it would have been really great if all Armenians around the world could get in touch on a cyber space where there are no borders. And I knew back then about Armenia.org and registered there. After that I had a visit to Spain where I met Patrick Sarkissian, he had a clear vision of what he wanted to be done in Armenia as a charity, there were so many fresh ideas and so much passion that I just wanted to be a part of it. They were looking for someone to work in Armenia who has a good understanding of business, tech, communication and English so I decided to participate.
– Can you please explain more about ONE Armenia, what are your impressions, what plans do you have, and what do you think about its future?
The staff of ONE Armenia are definitely one of the most intelligent, devoted and sympathetic people that I know, they are trying to use the resources available in the country and help the economy and technological enhancements. Our big plan was to open factories and get the economy going, but we had tons of problems at the top of them lack of financial support. On the other hand we have to make sure that there is the culture and awareness on how to use the technology, essentially what is it good for. People do not actually acknowledge what they can do with computers or internet. This is even more important, nowadays even my grandmother knows how to use Skype, or you can see how tweeter changes our world and the world of communications. Why there should be people around here that still do not know what is internet or a computer? Armenia has a small population (around three millions) so theoretically it should be easy to educate and support all the towns and villages. The other issue is how to encourage people to get together and to be creative and careful on solving their own problems on their own, that’s why there have been projects that we operated with other organizations like AGBU.
Our impression of Armenia is that the people are very charitable but due to the corruption most of the donated money is wasted on personal purposes. As you see Armenia needs to become transparent on its charity projects and that is what we are trying to do. Recently we had a project called the transparent kindergarten in which we raised twenty thousand dollars to build a kindergarten in Moshatagh, and then we calculated all the money spent on the project and published them on our website.
For the future we want all of these donations in on a larger scale, but our main focus will be as I mentioned transparency, managing local resources and to create jobs and opportunities for the younger generation.
The first thing I would like to mention about Armenia is that it is truly a beautiful and green country; one of my favorite hobbies is hiking, and I am still amazed by its high hills and extraordinary hiking places, I may sound patriotic but I can feel that here is the land of my ancestors and that I do belong here.
What surprises me is that sometimes people are so kind, generous and hospitable to one another and especially to strangers but sometimes they are excessively rude. What I do not like in Armenia is the attitude and the way of thinking that still lingers here. People have beliefs without questioning them. Armenia is a small country with small population; there is not much variety therefore there are no confrontation of thoughts and ideas. Nobody is challenging the old and out of date beliefs and taboos that still exist. Therefore there is no progress. We had researches about the domestic violence, male dominance, and the structure of male and female roles in the society and in the family in Armenia and the results were devastating. All of the parameters mentioned above are stuck to the past. Women are not treated equally as men, there are only two groups of women; whether they are housewives (or future housewives), or they are street walkers. So literally girls cannot hang out with their friends. If they do it is said that they have regard of self-respect. What I understand is that you cannot communicate with other half of the populations. Or the LGBT rights and issues. Why is the progress as slow as possible? I came to this believe that Armenia needs a sexual revolution and people should try to break free from their old and out- of-date ideas.
– In the end describe Armenia in 3 words.
Agile, conservative, emotional.