Together4Armenia:

Together4Armenia:

Sharing the Value

Following its century-old traditions and putting in use the latest technologies, AGBU is partnering with UNICEF and the EU to bring Diaspora closer to Armenia with the new Together4Armenia web platform. If you are a professional living abroad, use www.together4armenia.am to empower civil society in Armenia by sharing the greatest value – your knowledge and skills.

Text : Karine Ghazaryan

 

Armenia has been developing steadily over the past years, and it is now full of hopes, plans and tremendous energy. It seems this is the perfect time to put in use all the potential of the country – not only within its borders, bus also accumulated in its Diaspora throughout the globe. This is precisely what AGBU, the largest Armenian non-profit organization, in partnership with UNICEF, world’s leading child rights organization, decided to do by bringing together civil society communities of Armenia and high-skilled experts of Diaspora. The Together4Armenia web platform ignores the borders and engages Armenians all over the world, because who said borders are boundaries in the 21st century?

Children in a rural setting in Armenia, @UNICEF Armenia/2015/MaramAva

Traditionally, Diaspora used its financial resources to help Armenia thrive, by making donations and implementing philanthropy projects. But at times, skill and knowledge investment can be more impactful. What Together4Armenia offers is an innovative tool to contribute to the development of your homeland by providing valuable expertise and helping local organizations and communities to head towards sustainable growth. There is no need to be physically present in Armenia, you can contribute from your place of residence simply using Together4Armenia as a social network to connect to the local projects. Register and indicate your professional field at www.together4armenia.am, and the system will automatically match you with initiatives looking for respective expertise.

Isabella Merabova

BRIDGE4CSOs Program Officer, AGBU

Diaspora’s meaningful engagement is a priority for AGBU. That is why we put time, skills and tremendous energy in developing Together4Armenia. This is an innovative online tool which allows AGBU to promote intellectual volunteering of Diaspora professionals for the benefit of our country and creates a new opportunity to be closer to Armenia.

On the other hand, connecting global expertise with local social projects fosters the development of Armenian civil society. Another objective that AGBU is pursuing through its EU funded BRIDGE for CSOs program.

We work hand in hand with UNICEF in Armenia with the support of the European Union and in partnership with Mission East Armenia. And with thousands of beneficiaries and dozens of experts, Together4Armenia community is growing fast.

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In Armenia, NGOs, non-commercial initiatives, communities and individual project initiators can use the platform. They go through a simple registration process with a number of pretty standard requirements (including non-political activity, ethical content, etc.), create a profile and upload a project indicating what expertise they are seeking. Approval takes one day. On the other hand, Diaspora based professionals from all over the world can create their profiles on the Together4Armenia platform, describing their professional background and indicating the skills and expertise they are ready to share. Experts can also indicate whether they are available online, offline, or both. Based on the entered information, the system matches projects with experts sending notifications suggesting to connect. And the intellectual volunteering begins.

Talar Kazanjian, Executive Director of AGBU Armenia, at the launch of the revamped Togteher4Armenia website

This is what David Dikranian, a youth soccer coach who has worked with Yale University Women’s soccer team, did. Before registering on Together4Armenia platform and connecting with Armenian projects, Dikranian had never been to Armenia. But after finding on the platform promising organizations teaching girls to play soccer in rural Armenia, he traveled to the country, met the beneficiaries and held workshops for them in Yerevan and in the remote villages of Armenia, empowering girls through coaching. Once connected, he now travels to Armenia every summer to coach girl soccer teams during summer camps. Another specialist, Artur Muradian, tourism industry expert and director of Russian Space Travel tour company, provided in-person training not only for industry workers from the capital, but also from regions. “Together4Armenia is a great project as it helps people living in Armenia, especially in the regions of the country, connect with world-class experts, providing a high-quality boost to the sector,” Muradian says.

Since its launch, Together4Armenia engaged more than 60 professionals from Diaspora who have shared their knowledge with over 2100 participants through more than 80 workshops, making meaningful connections and jointly engaging in local projects.

Soccer camp for girls run by GOALS NGO

 

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Together4Armenia was originally created by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with the EU support and had primarily a social orientation. However, the platform had potential to expand and become a useful “skill transfer” tool in many other areas. To fully explore this potential, UNICEF partnered with AGBU, and in April 2017 the two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding to better engage Diaspora in supporting local communities and contributing to civil society development in Armenia. For a year the organizations worked on redesigning the website and adapting Together4Armenia to meet broader needs. In 2018, the web platform was relaunched and it can now serve as catalyst for Diaspora’s meaningful engagement in developing and empowering Armenia.

 

Armenuhi Hovakimyan

Social Protection Officer, UNICEF Armenia

UNICEF’s vision is an Armenia where the rights of every child are realized. In everything we do, we work to achieve that all children and adolescents, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, have equal opportunities to survive and thrive, develop and reach their full potential to the benefit of the sustained growth and stability of the country.

At the core of Together4Armenia platform is the concept of pro-bono skill transfer – sharing knowledge, expertise, experience and information,which is increasingly important for today’s Armenia. The platform aims to translate the “brain drain” into a “brain gain”, as it offers an opportunity to tap into the potential of the worldwide Armenian Diaspora to address local challenges together. Nurturing the links between professionals from the Diaspora and local communities is very important, as they lead not only to change of quality in many aspects of life, thus impacting families and children, but also build trust and the feeling of partnership between the experts and communities, which may lead in the future to other – maybe even more complex initiatives.