LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

by Homeland Development Initiative Foundation
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LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
LOCAL HANDICRAFTS FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
Berd women with sister Hanna
Berd women with sister Hanna
Armenian pop singer Emmy with Berd Teddy Bear
Armenian pop singer Emmy with Berd Teddy Bear
Timothy Straight with German nun, sister Hanna
Timothy Straight with German nun, sister Hanna
The women of "Berd Bears"
The women of "Berd Bears"
"Berd Bears" staff members
"Berd Bears" staff members
Berd Teddy Bears
Berd Teddy Bears
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Goris, the second largest city of the Syunik Region, is home to Goris Crochet, one of the artisan groups working with Homeland Development Initiative Foundation (HDIF). Goris Crochet is run by the women of the Goris Women's Development “Resource Centre” Foundation (GWRC). GWRC, founded in June 2009 with the support of the OSCE Office in Yerevan and by a local women’s initiative group, has been collaborating with HDIF since its inception in 2013.  Having worked on different handicrafts for years, the women of Goris Crochet began making crochet fruits and vegetables, followed by crocheted animals for HDIF.

 

Currently, Goris Crochet employs roughly 90 trained active workers of which 55 have no other source of income. The women work on average 8 hours and meet on a weekly basis to present their handiworks to their supervisors to ensure constancy in the quality of the products.

HDIF recently visited GWRC to discuss Goris Crochets participation at this years Sheep Shearing Festival on 6th June at Halidzor. Special sheep themed products to be produced for the festival was discussed including ideas on design & presentation of their stand. Another topic during the discussion was how Goris Crochet has benefited from the various business, marketing and human resource management trainings, as well as business development consultations, which are partially sponsored by Global Giving funds.

 

GWRC’s Executive Director, Ruzanna Torozyan expressed the importance of the trainings “We have learned how to manage our human resources, as well as use social media to advertise our products and the financial management trainings has helped us to achieve financial stability together with better management skills”. She particularly likes the communal “family environment” created through these HDIF training sessions which allow the opportunity for all HDIF producers to get to know one another to share knowledge, experiences and skills with each other.

 

Ruzanna continued to say that the business consultations have helped them to understand how to calculate the pricings of the products. These calculations are done “with the producing women directly, so the process is transparent and inspiring”. Ruzanna also appreciates the quality of these consultations. “They helped us to develop our products and make them more competitive in the global market and at the same time motivate the women to come up with new ideas for possible products for the future.”

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Vahagn and Zara are from Sisian, a small town on the southern end of the Syunik Province in Armenia.  Struggling to make a living, Vahagn and Zara set up their business, Sisian Ceramics, several years ago in the shadow of an old church in their town. Throughout the years, they have gladly welcomed any and all visitors to their workshop, even allowing them try their hand at the throwing wheel or glazing process. The couple has been producing beautiful ceramic pieces, ranging from mugs and bowls to different items of jewelry, including necklaces and earrings. Made with extensive precision, each piece is intricately designed with carvings and paintings, often reflecting those of Armenian tradition and historic symbolism.

In 2013, Tim Straight, founder of HDIF, was asked by the Goris Women’s Resource Center to begin working with and promoting a ceramics project with a striving Armenian business. After searching throughout Armenia for the perfect products, Tim was directed towards Sisian, ending up at Vahagn’s and Zara’s doors. In early 2014, HDIF began their partnership with Sisian Ceramics, aiding the couple in producing and selling dozens of different products by providing business models and outlets for sales. With the help of HDIF, Vahagn and Zara have been able to present their products throughout diverse markets, including events such as the Sheep Shearing Festival and the Taraz Fest. Moreover, they have been able to showcase their works to the international market as well, evening shipping to the United States. Making wonderful souvenirs, their products are constantly in-demand.

Recently, HDIF contacted their partners at Sisian Ceramics to order more of their great items. However, unfortunately, Vahagn and Zara are currently experiencing a harsh difficulty that is making it impossible for the couple to produce their products, leading them to financially struggle. The three phase electrical system in Syunik has collapsed in their workshop, meaning the couple will not be able to use any of their tools to produce their works. Moreover, Vahagn and Zara were informed the electrical system will not be functional again until March. The couple will thus be unable to work and earn a stable living for the next 2 months! If no new products can be sent to HDIF, the couple can make no income.

Such a hit is difficult for the couple and their two children, who are already struggling to support themselves in the developing region. Even worse, Zara is currently 8 months pregnant with the couple’s third child. Unable to financially sustain their livelihood, the couple is worried about how they are going to be able to survive.

HDIF has now stepped in to create new opportunities for Zara and Vahagn and provide a different means for the couple to create their beautifully designed products.  Vahagn and Zara’s story is inspiring and we are determined to help them succeed during these difficult times. If you want to help out Vahagn and Zara, please order from the items we have in stock. Photos of what we have in stock are in these photos, or ask us about products you see on https://www.pinterest.com/HDIF/sisian-ceramics/. We have some of them in stock, but not all.

Thanks for your help!

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Lena EranosyanLena 

HDIF first met Lena three years ago, when Peace Corps volunteer Laura invited us to make the trip up to Vardenis in the very first week of 2012 to visit a sewing project there. It was a very cold, windy, snowy day, and only the second time ever that I, Tim, founder of HDIF, had been in Vardenis.  That freezing day, we gathered around the room heater at Lena's house and I presented my concept of making potholders using traditional Armenian themes like Ararat and pomegranates.  Cake was on the table, of course!

Discussing the very first Vardenis Sewing potholderDiscussing the very first Vardenis Sewing potholder

 Lena seemed that day more concerned with making sure that all the guests that came visiting were welcomed by a burgeoning table and a clean plate, as Armenian New Year tradition dictates, and many neighbors did drop by as we sat and tried to design our very first potholder. Having agreed on an Ararat theme, we were herded over to the table and had our fill of all that a warm home in Vardenis can offer. 

Lena serves her guests on January 3rd, 2012Lena serves her guests on January 3rd, 2012

 As soon as the holidays were over, I traveled up to Vardenis again, and Lena set out to make the first of what was to be one of their best sellers- Mt. Ararat.

Lena prepares the original Ararat design for cuttingLena prepares the original Ararat design for cutting

The cutting block patterns are establishedThe cutting block patterns are established

The cut fabric pieces are assembledThe cut fabric pieces are assembled

All the parts in place before sewingAll the parts in place before sewing

The very first finished Ararat potholderThe very first finished Ararat potholder

And then a very first pomegranate took shape.

 The very first pomegranate potholderThe very first pomegranate potholder

 I will never forget coming back to Yerevan that evening in February 2012 and sitting at a cafe at the Cascade in Yerevan, looking at two not-so-perfect but not-bad-either potholders.  A couple of French Armenian ladies were sitting at the next table, and they asked where I had gotten those two potholders.  I told them the story of how these were the very first two potholders from a new project to employ women in Vardenis.  They bought them immediately! I knew that with both a good product and a compelling story, that this project was going to succeed. 

And it has.

Inspired by this first small success, we asked Lena to produce oven gloves in the same patterns.

Ararat oven gloveArarat oven glove

Peace Corps volunteer Laura shows off one of the versions of the pomegranate potholder and oven glovePeace Corps volunteer Laura shows off one of the versions of the pomegranate potholder and oven glove

We asked for help in getting Lena and the four other women she now employed with a new sewing maching and our good friend Baronne Samedi i France happily produced the money.  Lena came to Yerevan to pick out the machine she wanted.

Lena chooses her new sewing machine in Yerevan, thanks to Baronne Samedi!Lena chooses her new sewing machine in Yerevan, thanks to Baronne Samedi!

Lena and the other ladies were soon churning out hundreds and then thousands of these high quality potholders and oven gloves and then branched out into other products like aprons, baby blankets, table mats, utensil holders, jazvee handle covers, tea cozies and more.

Ararat apronArarat apron

Ararat baby blanket in felt. An heirloom from the first day.Ararat baby blanket in felt. An heirloom from the first day.

The Armen\Armine series has proven to be the most popular Vardenis Sewing series ever.The Armen\Armine series has proven to be the most popular Vardenis Sewing series ever.

And a plethora of different designs were produced...for clients in the US, in Norway, in Lebanon and more....

Moo.  They also make Oink, Baah, Meow and Woof.Moo. They also make Oink, Baah, Meow and Woof.

Viking ship pattern for NorwayViking ship pattern for Norway

And of course for different holidays:

Lots of Christmas items!Lots of Christmas items!

Ghosts and pumpkins for HalloweenGhosts and pumpkins for Halloween

Chicks and eggs for EasterChicks and eggs for Easter

Goggle gobble for ThanksgivingGoggle gobble for Thanksgiving

And for various HDIF festivals!

for the Sheep Shearing Festival in Tatev valley in May 2014for the Sheep Shearing Festival in Tatev valley in May 2014

For the Shamshadin Honey and Berry Festival in August 2014For the Shamshadin Honey and Berry Festival in August 2014

For the Golden Wheat Festival in SeptemberFor the Golden Wheat Festival in September

Lena and her ladies have been very busy trying to keep up with the demand for their products.  Lena's family owns a small shop front in Vardenis, which is room enough for the five women who work there and her husband Armen who helps on on a regular basis.  With huge potential with a client in Russia coming up in 2015, the challenge for Lena and Vardenis Sewing is not at all a lack of markets, but a need to find a bigger space to work in in order to hire more women to meet the demand that already exists.  If inclined to help them do that, please let us know.

The next series to come out of Vardenis Sewing - Russian matryoshka doll patterned pot holder.The next series to come out of Vardenis Sewing - Russian matryoshka doll patterned pot holder.

Lena is a shy, modest woman and she is a traditional Armenian wife and mother.  Yet, she is reigning over a hub of optimism and daily positive buzz at their workshop in Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Manush was born disabled in the small, remote village of Goghovit in Shirak marz.  Her twin sister did not survive.  She walks with a cane, and has difficulties with stairways.  She went to the local grammar school, but was not able to get a higher education, as the practicalities of travel to Gyumri every day would not allow it.  Having said this, Manush's disability does not define her.  She is strong.  She is determined.  And she is handles every challenge thrown at her with dignity and grace.

Manush proudly displaying one of her high quality productsManush proudly displaying one of her high quality products

HDIF was introduced to Manush by Women for Development in early 2013.  They told us that she would represent an opportunity.  At the same time, a friend in Moscow asked us if we had someone who could knit a sweater for him.  HDIF soon learned how to design sweaters on bits of graph paper, and a steady flow of beautifully crafted sweaters in traditional themes like Ararat, the Armenian alphabet, Ughtasar cave paintings, Armenian carpets, and pomegranates flowed out to HDIF's clients.

Warm sweaters in original Armenian designs - Aybuben, Masis, Karpet, Khoier and NoorWarm sweaters in original Armenian designs - Aybuben, Masis, Karpet, Khoier and Noor

Manush's collection was expanded to include hats and mittens, and kept many an Armenian head warm the long cold Winter of 2013.

Hats to match, in those five original Armenian designsHats to match, in those five original Armenian designs

Each pattern is also available in mittensEach pattern is also available in mittens

That same year, Orange Armenia approached HDIF and asked if we could produce a knitted tea warmer in their company color to give as a corporate social responsibility Christmas gift.  Of course HDIF can, because we know that Manush can.  She gathered up the ladies of Goghovit, and they knitted tea warmers for three solid months.  The income from this earned each of them enough money to give them a comfortable winter in Goghovit, the first one in many a year.  Manush became a real asset to her community, a job creator.

Orange Armenia corporate social responsibility gifts being churned out in GoghovitOrange Armenia corporate social responsibility gifts being churned out in Goghovit

The Spring of 2014 arrived, and HDIF was thinking of what Manush could do during the warm Summer months.  A Diasporan Armenian approached us and asked if we could make a knitted cushion cover with the traditional Armenian wedding phrase 'May You Grow Old on One Pillow' on it. Manush immediately starts churning these out, and many a newlywed couple has received these on their wedding day this Summer.  Manush has been busy!

A classic Armenian wedding gift from ManushA classic Armenian wedding gift from Manush

Manush in the course of a couple of short years has become a real knitting machine..with a huge will to work and achieve, and an even bigger smile on her face.  She is a determined woman, and HDIF is privileged to work with her.  Having sold many of her hats and gloves at the first of this year's Christmas fairs yesterday, we today called up to Manush in Goghovit and asked her if she could produce some more before this Friday's next round of fairs.  

Her response?  'Of course I can'

Manush knitting away on the steps of her home in GoghovitManush knitting away on the steps of her home in Goghovit

HDIF exists to support women like Manush- the craftswoman, the driven woman who wants to improve her own situation through hard work.

Please help us support Manush and many other women like her through making a donation to HDIF's Global Giving campaign.

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Organization Information

Homeland Development Initiative Foundation

Location: Yerevan - Armenia
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @HDIFarmenia
Project Leader:
Timothy Straight
Mr.
Kentron, YEREVAN Armenia
$41,034 raised of $59,000 goal
 
599 donations
$17,966 to go
Donate Now
$10
USD
will provide a warm beanie and a jar of superfood blueberry jam to a person at risk at the border. The beanie will provide work to an artisan in the village of Goghovit, the jam will be made in Berd
$20
USD
will provide will provide a warm sweater to a person at risk at the border. The sweater will be made by former refugees from Syria in Yerevan.
$30
USD
will provide a warm beanie and a sweater to a person at risk at the border. The sweater will be produced by a Syrian Armenian in Yerevan, and the beanie will be hand knit in Goghovit village.
$50
USD
will provide a sweater, a beanie and six jars of superfood blueberry jam to a person at risk at the border. The products come from Goghovit, Berd and Syrian Armenians
$100
USD
will provide five jars of superfood blueberry jam, three sweaters and three beanies to a family at risk by the border. The products come from Goghovit, Berd and Syrian Armenians.
$200
USD
will provide six sweaters, six beanies, and eight jars of superfood blueberry jam to families at risk by the border. The products come from Goghovit, Berd and Syrian Armenians.
$500
USD
will provide 17 beanies and 17 sweaters to persons at risk in villages up at the border. The beanies are produced in Goghovit and the sweaters by Syrian Armenians. We will thrown in some jam from Berd
$1,000
USD
will provide 35 beanies and 35 sweaters to persons at risk in villages up at the border. The beanies are produced in Goghovit and the sweaters by Syrian Armenians. We will throw in some jam from Berd
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