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History of Alvan Tsarik

Alvan Tsarik was established in the Netherlands on July 13, 2005.

Initially Alvan Tsarik only occupied itself with educational support. Books, computers and copy machines were sent to the regional library of Gyumri, Armenia.
It was an initiative of Renť Beunk, who used his network with schools to gather books and worked together with students to prepare the transport of materials in their spare time and vacations.

Yet soon, Annie Bodde from Duiven, joined the foundation. She had already been busy organising transports with humanitarian materials for the orphanage Zatik in the capital Jerevan.

By cooperating with her, we could combine transport, knowledge of education area and capacity supplied by the network of schools and teachers. The result of this cooperation is a framework of aims in which social-economical, educational and cultural aspects were described. Thanks to a lot of good people, who want to support the aims by offering help materials like clothes, toys, furniture and schoolbooks, these materials were offered in big numbers.

These materials were temporarily stored, so they could be shipped by container later on in the process. The American-Armenian foundation UAF has supported us financially several times with the transports, but for that we had to provide UAF with detailed information about the kind and value of the goods to be shipped.

The number of projects slowly increased in the next years. The NGO Azatan became a partner with their community centre. With this partnership a couple of activities, like farming by a loan for buying a tractor and pre-school education by materials and knowledge, were made possible. Our participation offered the members a first opportunity to be noticed by other authorities. The NGO is respected on all sides, in the first place by the community of Azatan.

We furnished our own office and with our own volunteers and the computers we installed there, children from poor families could learn English and computer skills in our Alvan Tsarik School.

Through the Armenian Caritas, we came in contact with several Special Schools in Gyumri, Vanadzor and Artik. At these schools, there are children with a learning arrears, this is mostly because the parents donít have the money for transportation or because of the miserable circumstances of the roads in the winter. These schools received furniture and specific education tools like overhead projectors and toys from us. Beside that, it was made possible for us to send used, but still fine, sports gear to the French school in Gyumri.

Another big project was the computer project for NGOs around Gyumri. After a successful transportation of about 100 computers, we could invite these NGOs to collect one or two computers from us in exchange for a little contribution in the transportation costs.

Since 2005, we have tried different ways to recruit funds in the Netherlands for our activities in Armenia. Through the Friends of Alvan Tsarik, contributions for particular projects came in regularly. By selling Christmas cards with Armenian designs by Candea College in Duiven or at Christmas markets, money came in and we got familiar in the surrounding area of Duiven.

In 2007, after the first successful years, a reversal occurred. The supply of books, furniture and computers remained high. And the interest in our work turned out the media attention via papers and television, but the logistic side of our work became more and more difficult. The requirements of the UAF, with regard to the value of the transportation, became more strict and especially the bureaucracy in Armenia started to hinder us.

Because the authorities of the government worked against each other, it was very difficult for our people in Armenia to get the imported containers acknowledged as humanitarian. Without a humanitarian status, we should pay an import tax for the materials in the containers. In 2009, after a computer transport took a disastrous course because of the opposition by several Armenian authorities, we decided to abandon the shipping of materials to our projects.
With this, the cooperation with the orphanage Zatik ended too.
There was still one little ray of hope. There were enough materials for the library in Gyumri and the village projects in Azatan, so for the time being we didnít have to send new materials to them.

Because of the continuous offer of written-off, but still relatively new computers and other things like that in the Netherlands, an opportunity to deal with things differently came by. On account of the fact that we could still use the storage of Tiemex Logistics in Zevenaar, we could gather these materials and, in consultation with the donors, sell them for an inviting price to several institutes in the Netherlands. With the money we raised, we are capable to set up permanent projects.

In 2010 we started the pre-school projects. Six schools in villages with a nursery according to an old Soviet model, took part in our attempt to offer nursery like we do in the Netherlands. In Shirak Marz, Haykavan, Voskehask and Amasya as villages joined the project. In Lori Marz a nursery in Vanadzor joined and the nurseries in Debed and Qarintsj joined us also.

We made the following deal with the villages:
You are prepared to attend a training in which we show how the nursery system in the Netherlands works and you are going to work with the future nursery teachers and teachers of the lower classes of the primary school with the help of a year program.

Alvan Tsarik will take care of the training and send furniture and educational materials by containers to the pre-schools and the accompanying schools. And last but not least, we will support the project financially by a monthly contribution for a couple of months. Moreover, we offer the schools a professional guidance of an Armenian specialist in nursery. If necessary, Dutch nursery specialists could assist in Armenia.
After the period of one year, we can say that this project is of great success at every school. Of course there are big differences between the villages, like the available materials and the number of personnel, but everywhere the situation has improved well. We sent three containers with beautiful materials from Dutch primary schools to Armenia. The parents and children in Armenia are very pleased with this project.
Since November 2012, the Shirak Marz Regional Library in Gyumri has at its disposal a beautiful new historical building in the centre of Gyumri. This was made possible by the large collection of foreign books the library received from us. The fame of the library also reached the capital city, because people from the capital came to Gyumri to borrow books. The minister decided to give the library a building, but not any money for the layout. So we sent, again, furniture and bookcases to the library. In the Netherlands, a lot of libraries are closing down and therefore we could send the furniture of a large library in Nijmegen, a library in Voorburg and smaller libraries in the district Montferland to Armenia.

Related to the library, we set up a fund of Ä 5,000 to make it possible for the children of the co-workers of the library to pay their fees at the start of the school year. On a yearly basis, about seven or eight children and their parents make an appeal to this fund. During the year, the borrowed money is paid back. We donít ask for any interest in money, we ask for an interest in spare time. So the students and their parents work at several projects in the library, like a play performed for children and repairing the roof or furniture.

November 2012.
This project will definitely be continued

UAF = United Armenia Fund
NGO - Non Governmental Organization