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Journal of Traumatic Stress Disorders & Treatment ISSN: 2324-8947

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Expert Review, J Trauma Stress Disor Treat Vol: 6 Issue: 3

ATOP Meaningful World Humanitarian Mission to Armenia 14-30 April, 2017

Ani Kalayjian*, Lorraine Simmons, Leslie Popoff and Daria Diakanova

The Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention (ATOP), USA

*Corresponding Author : Ani Kalayjian
The Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention (ATOP), ww.meaningfulworld.com, NY Office, 185 E 85th Street, New York, NY 10028, USA
Tel: 1(201)941-2266
E-mail: [email protected]

Received: May 19, 2017 Accepted: August 09, 2017 Published: August 16, 2017

Citation: Kalayjian A, Simmons L, Popoff L, Diakanova D (2017) ATOP Meaningful World Humanitarian Mission to Armenia 14-30 April, 2017. J Trauma Stress Disor Treat 6:3. doi: 10.4172/2324-8947.1000175

Abstract

With great excitement, the Meaningfulworld humanitarian team led by Dr. Ani Kalayjian arrived in Yerevan on April 14, 2017 to begin the vital work that was initiated during Meaningfulworld’s last mission to Armenia in 2014. The current team included Ms. Lorraine Simmons, Dr. Leslie Popoff, Mr. Karen Gargaryan, and Dr. Daria Diakanova.From the moment we arrived we were privileged to observe many of the traditions and customs of the rich Armenian culture, one that reflects Armenia’s long history and carries with it great meaning into the present. These traditions give the Armenian culture its unique character and essence. We experienced it through kneading dough and observing the baking of flatbread in a Lavash bread factory, and lighting candles at the oldest Cathedral in the world, the impressive
Echmiadzine Cathedral. We were blessed with banquets of traditional Armenian food prepared by our gracious hosts Luara and Sourig Parseghyan, with many ingredients which are grown and harvested in their own garden.

Keywords: Humanitarian Empowerment; Healing; Transforming Horizontal Violence; Launching Suicide Prevention Hotline; Establishing Peace and Health Gardens

Introduction

With great excitement, the Meaningfulworld humanitarian team led by Dr. Ani Kalayjian arrived in Yerevan on April 14, 2017 to begin the vital work that was initiated during Meaningfulworld’s last mission to Armenia in 2014. The current team included Ms. Lorraine Simmons, Dr. Leslie Popoff, Mr. Karen Gargaryan, and Dr. Daria Diakanova. From the moment we arrived we were privileged to observe many of the traditions and customs of the rich Armenian culture, one that reflects Armenia’s long history and carries with it great meaning into the present. These traditions give the Armenian culture its unique character and essence. We experienced it through kneading dough and observing the baking of flatbread in a Lavash bread factory, and lighting candles at the oldest Cathedral in the world, the impressive Echmiadzine Cathedral. We were blessed with banquets of traditional Armenian food prepared by our gracious hosts Luara and Sourig Parseghyan, with many ingredients which are grown and harvested in their own garden. Cultural foods included homemade organic yogurt, a variety of fragrant greens, cheese, apricot jam, sour cherry juice, sausages, and eggs hatched by the chickens in the back yard. Driving through the streets of Yerevan brings to view the stark contrast of the rich history of Armenia with a modern business and shopping center, and a bustling subway system. There is also a palpable energy brought by a growing number of young Armenians determined to return to their roots while tending to new creative growth.

During our meetings and consultations with people from a variety of organizations and in some very high level positions, we learned that while most governmental funding for education throughout the world is at a 20% level, only 3% of the governmental budget in Armenia is allocated for education. The majority of the budget is allocated for defense to secure the borders blockaded by Turkey and Azerbaijan. Armenians struggle with the challenges of unemployment at 30%, in some towns 50%, with poverty and the resultant exodus of many Armenian men to Russia and other countries to find employment, while women are left alone to care for children and the elderly. This devastating reality made us feel the heavy weight of responsibility for the work that we came here to do.

The goals of our mission to Armenia included promoting emotional healing and well-being, working towards the transformation of the generational trauma of Genocide, transforming horizontal violence via discussion and distribution of campaign posters of “crab in the bucket” syndrome, and training professionals in the 7-Step Integrative Healing Model which incorporates and promotes self-care, selfhealing, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, empathy, and meaningmaking. In addition to these goals was the team’s commitment to follow up on the initiative that Meaningfulworld started during our 2014 mission, which was to help create a suicide prevention hotline. The need for a suicide prevention hotline is clearly evidenced in the steady increase in frequency of suicide and suicidal attempts across adolescent as well as adults, fueled by the challenging socio-economic climate and the presence of generational trauma, horizontal violence, and other daily stressors faced by the Armenian people. We planned to work with a broad spectrum of the neediest among Armenia’s population, as well as professionals and service providers. We worked with twelve organizations; orphans in children’s centers, Syrian Armenians dealing with the challenges of resettlement while struggling to survive in a country dealing with severe economic hardship, the professionals who are working with them, university students suffering from drafts to the army, when border deaths continue by Azerbaijan. We conducted workshops on empowering young girls and boys to learn the UN Declaration for Human Rights, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), EQ, mindfulness, assertiveness, and meaning-making. Through generous donations we were able to sponsor seven children in Yerevan, Gyumri and Ardashad. We also gave financial support to an elderly man in Ardashad to help him afford much needed medicine and food.

Our workshops were sustainable, as we asked every person to share what they had experienced and learned with a minimum of three others – family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. While we worked with 500 people during our 2-week mission, we were able to impact over 2,000 people indirectly.

Our mission had a three prong approach: Healing, education, and research. With an IRB approval from Luther College, we administered scientific surveys to all adults (age 18 and older) to assess the continued impact of the trauma they experienced, their level of forgiveness as well as meaning discovered. The majority expressed distress regarding the anniversary of the Ottoman Turkish Genocide commemorated on 24 April, the one-year anniversary of the 2 April atrocities caused by Azerbaijan in 2016, the earthquake in 1988, Horizontal Violence (especially related to family and domestic violence), unemployment, poverty, and “brain-drain.”

On 16 April, our first day in Yerevan, our team met with Professor Angela Vardanyan, President of the Armenian Psychoanalytical Association to discuss collaborations in regard to the establishment of Armenia’s first suicide prevention hotline. Prof. Vardanyan endorsed the importance of this project and lent her full cooperation.

On 17 April, we visited with Ms. Armine Halajyan, Officer-in- Charge of the UN Department of Public Information. We discussed our goals with her, and she directed us to UNFPA. We then met with Mr. Garik Hayrapetyan who agreed to send our proposal for a Suicide Prevention Hotline to agencies associated with the UN. In the afternoon we visited the United States Embassy. We met with Dr. Astghik Grigoryan, Project Management Specialist for the Democracy, Health and Social Reform Office of USAID. Also present at this meeting was Mr. Audie Holloway, Senior Law Enforcement Advisor for the US Embassy who expressed his desire to collaborate with us by training the police after the Suicide Prevention Hotline is established. We were feeling optimistic after this busy day of meetings and the opportunity to share our goals and possible collaborations. We were disappointed to learn that there was no funding available to support this project, and the US has cut the budget to Armenia 77% and the focus of remaining funding is on maternal and infant care. In pursuit of our suicide prevention goal we also met with Dr. Kamo Vardanyan, Professor and Director of the Scientific Research Center at the Armenian State Pedagogical University, and a suicidologist. He offered his support and extensive research from 1970s to present. We then met with the Director of the Ministry of Health, Mr. Hayk Gregoryan, who gave us his full support and immediately contacted Dr. Samvel Tatevosyan, chief psychiatrist, who also gave his full support as he said: “This is a very timely, essential and important project! We don’t need to reinvent the wheel as suicide hotlines have been around in other countries for a long time; it’s an urgent matter and it’s an important project…You have my full support.”

On 18 April we conducted a workshop at the Women’s Rights Center in Yerevan. We worked with a group of 37 professional women. The workshop included a review and discussion of emotional intelligence, the 7 Step-Integrative Healing Model, conflict resolution, meditation and Soul-Surfing exercises. After the meditation experience the participants shared the following: A sense of ‘lightness,’ relief from headaches, and an overwhelming sense of relaxation. At the end of the workshop, participants said that they felt enriched and renewed by the experience. There were deep expressions of gratitude. The most moving expression was a young woman who said she felt so filled with love that she wanted to give something back, and she began to sing the moving Armenian song by Komitas. The room vibrated with love after hearing her moving voice and the powerful lyrics.

On 19 April, the Meaningfulworld team met with the team of physicians and nurses at the medical clinic of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), including a chiropractor, midwife, cardiologist, and a gynecologist. Dr. Krikor Tarakjian, Director of the clinic, shared with us the serious challenges faced by the Syrian Armenian refugees. Many are unemployed, do not have adequate housing, and struggle to live day to day. They suffer from stress related medical conditions, including high blood pressure, headaches, cardiac problems, and other medical conditions are exacerbated by the trauma of the seven year Syrian war. He also shared with us the work of Karitas, assisting the Syrian Armenians (the term refugee was frowned at) in their resettlement, providing assistance with housing, education, and financial assistance. We then met with S. Exc. Mgr Raphael Minassian, leader of the Catholic Church in Armenia, Georgia, and Russia. He was extremely gracious to meet with us on such short notice, and with his assistance we arranged to work with a group of elderly, children, staff and parents at two Karitas centers.

On 20 April we conducted a healing workshop with the Syrian Armenians; some had already arrived early hoping to consult with us about specific health concerns prior to the workshop. One man was experiencing fainting spells, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping. He had recently been evaluated in the hospital and diagnosed with high blood pressure, although he said he is unable to afford the medication. In a private consultation with us he revealed feelings of helplessness, loss of identity and meaning, all indicating significant traumatization. We consulted privately with another woman who complained of a very severe skin condition for which she was also unable to afford the prescribed medication. We focused on teaching the participants strategies for coping and well-being to regain a sense of personal control. They learned relaxation breathing, how to meditate, were provided with information about natural flower remedies, and learned Soul-Surfing exercises that helped them relax their bodies and minds. The participants immersed themselves in this interactive learning experience, demonstrating resilience, openness, and even humor despite their hardships. At their request we were able to return for a second workshop, and we couldn’t help but feel a lifting of their spirits. After the Heart-to-Heart Circle of Love participants began to sing and everyone joined in a circle dance. We closed with heartfelt hugs, and each participant was given a certificate and essential oils of Lavender for relaxation, Rosemary for protection and other gifts. In the afternoon, we traveled to the southern town of Ardashad with Armine Yepremyan. There we worked in the newly formed Caritas children’s afterschool center sponsored by the Catholic church of Armenia. We worked with over 40 children, parents and staff. Dr. Ani presented the anger wheel and asked the children to identify their feelings and ways in which they express their emotions. The children expressed fear as the predominant feeling. When asked how they dealt with feeling afraid, some said they speak to their parents or teachers. The children created movements for each other to imitate and we then did the Soul-Surfing exercises. Each child was given a “gift of life bracelet” and Dr. Ani encouraged them to treat each day as a gift and use the bracelet as a reminder on a day to day basis. At the Caritas centers the children are given a meal daily and for many of them, it is the only meal they eat that day. After the workshop, the team was rushed to the location of the prison of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, the patron saint and first official head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He was a religious leader who is credited with converting Armenia from paganism to Christianity in 301AD. It was a perilous decent to the pit, but well worth the effort. It was one of the positive micro moments that restored the energy of the team. After we returned to Caritas, we consulted privately with a couple of young women and sponsored 2 children. We made a home visit to an elderly man in desperate need of companionship and financial assistance for medicine and food. Our monetary donations were graciously accepted and it warmed our hearts to know that he will have his needs met for a time.

On 21 April our team participated in the First Conference on Women’s Empowerment at the American University of Armenia (AUA). The Chair of the conference was Dr. Shakeh Kaftarian, Fullbright Scholar at AUA. Other high level participants included President of AUA, Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian; Minister of Justice Arpine Hovhannisyan; President of San Jose State University, Mary Papazian; and Veronika Zonabend, Founding Partner and Chair of the Board of Governors of DWC Dilijan College. In the afternoon our team took part in a special press conference on Gender and Genocide. We presented on generational transmission placing emphasis on the impact of Genocide on the Armenian women. Dr. Ani shared the following impacts on women: Over protectiveness, poor selfesteem, feelings of guilt, and placing preference on male children and gender selective abortions. We then returned to the AUA conference where Dr. Ani was on a panel entitled: “Motivational Models of Empowerment.” The title of her presentation was “Transforming Horizontal Violence through Empowerment of Women: Establishing EQ and Mindfulness Through the 7-Step Integrative Healing Model.” It was a very gratifying experience to be amidst hundreds of bright and accomplished Armenian women, and to see an important institution of higher education encouraging young women to pursue leadership positions. After an extremely busy day we were able to take a short break on our way home to dip our feet in the Armenian Hrazdan River. Although it was only a brief interlude, we were refreshed and ready to process the full day of three back to back programs. Positive micro moments nurture resilience, as we experienced firsthand.

On 22 April Dr. Kalayjian and the team were invited by Hayk Demoyan to conduct a workshop to the staff of the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex and Genocide Museum, on generational trauma and the 7 Step Integrative Healing Model. TV Armenia and Armenia TV Online were waiting for us and interviewed Dr. Ani regarding our mission goals, challenges, and collaborators. The staff members appeared resistant to sharing their feelings. They denied any negative impact of the Genocide on them personally, and some even said that due to Armenia’s victory over Azerbaijan, they feel strong and triumphant. We then had an opportunity to tour the museum with our guide, Hasmik, who was knowledgeable, sensitive and patient. Bearing witness to the atrocities committed against the Armenian people greatly impacted the Meaningfulworld humanitarian team. Our visit to the museum reinforced our commitment to continue to raise awareness of the Ottoman Turkish Genocide of Armenians and uphold human rights worldwide.

On 23 April we had an invitation from Dean Khachatryan, to present at Vanadzor State University, two hours north of Yerevan. We shared the road with flocks of sheep guided by their shepherd, and we enjoyed the beautiful views of snow covered mountain peaks, churches, and farmland. We ran several workshops focused on forgiveness, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and mind full leadership. The least attended workshop was on forgiveness, a concept that likely is hard for the students to grasp given the ongoing conflict at the border with Azerbaijan. At the present time, given the tragic deaths of young soldiers, the mood is that of fighting and not forgiving, as even young girls express the desire to be soldiers, which was not previously customary. The students as well as the faculty acknowledged that our presentations were refreshing, innovative and a much needed shift from their traditional lecture format. Students shared their personal experiences and concerns. We donated three books authored by Dr. Ani to the library of Vanadzor University, and they gifted us a book by Hovannes Toumanyan, an Armenian poet and author.

In the afternoon we presented a program at the Armenian Constitutional Rights Protective Center (ACRPC), which is founded and directed by Mr. Gevork Manoukian and is affiliated with the UN ECOSOC. When we arrived we found the local TV station waiting for us. They conducted an interview with Dr. Ani on the focus of our mission, challenges we discovered, and partnerships we formed. Dr. Ani then presented to the participants on the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on Goal #4 on Education. Passionate discourse ensued regarding the government’s responsibility for education, housing and employment. With the exodus of many Armenian men as well as young adults, Armenia is losing funds, intelligence and manpower, as well as the potential for development. Participants also shared their frustration that the majority of governmental funding is allocated to the capital, rather than the outlying towns. They also complained of ageism, where it is hard to get employment after age 45, although the actual retirement age is 63.

On 24 April we paid respect to the 1.5 million who perished in the Ottoman-Turkish Genocide of the Armenian people, commemorating the 102nd anniversary. It was extremely moving to see the endless stream of people of all ages walking for hours, flowers in hand to place at the eternal flame in honor of the victims, some who are now canonized as saints. Having visited the museum, and now witnessing the entire country coming to pay their respect on this somber day, the concept of generational trauma is clearly evidenced. The elderly and infirm, disabled veterans, parents pushing strollers or carrying children on their shoulders, all walk the same long, steep hill to the memorial. Normally heavily traveled streets are closed to traffic and vendors line the sidewalk selling beautiful flowers for visitors to bring with them. It is a moving experience beyond words. Sputnik Public Television and TV Armenia interviewed Dr. Ani, and wanted to hear about the generational transmission of trauma, what we could do about it, our mission goals, our campaign on transforming horizontal violence, and much more.

On 25 April, our team was invited to the Armenian State Pedagogical University, Dept. of Educational Psych & Sociology, by Prof. Gevorgyan, where close to 100 eager students and faculty actively participated in a four hour training on preventing suicide and launching suicide prevention hotline, EQ, and building resilience. There was a particularly dynamic exchange regarding EQ, domestic violence and Horizontal Violence. When the anger wheel was shared and discussed, the students expressed the following: 100% expressed worry of future related to war; 50% fear of war or death of loved ones; 50% expressed feelings of shame related to disappointing their parents; and 30% shared feelings of disappointment. When asked about domestic violence, approximately 20% had heard, seen or experienced it; they reinforced that the rate is higher in less educated communities. We also focused on meaning-making and only four people had read Victor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning.’ The following programs were developed:

1. Ecological beautification of the university (seven students volunteered and we will follow up via skype regarding setting objectives and progress)

2. Starting neighborhood organizations for safety, security and environmental sustainability

3. Starting healing groups to help manage EQ

4. Transforming Horizontal Violence through posters we had designed and donated on the “crab in the bucket” syndrome. We then went outdoors for our traditional Soul-Surfing exercises, and everyone returned to receive certificates as well as small gifts and essential oils.

In the afternoon, we were invited to the State Institute of Philosophy, Sociology, and Law by the Director, Dr. Gevorg Poghosyan, a long term friend of Meaningfulworld. Around twentyfive scientists and lawyers had gathered for a seminar. The group was critical, challenging, and resisted the applicability of the anger wheel. They felt that healing will only happen when there is a Turkish government acknowledgment of the genocide. They did not feel that they needed to improve their health, and felt that all their issues will be transformed with the recognition. In fact, horizontal violence was at the peak, as they could not even listen long enough for Dr. Ani to complete her sentences, and they began talking over her, and amongst one another. The Director had to set limits with kindness and humor to have the group exercise listening and professional discourse.

On 26 April our team returned to the AGBU Center to meet with the Syrian Armenians who requested to work with us again. During their expression of feelings they released a high level of sadness and trauma due to the war in Syria! Frequently expressed somatic complaints were: insomnia, skeletal-muscular complaints (especially backache, knee and shoulder aches), digestive issues, heart palpitations and extreme nervousness. On an emotional level they expressed hyper-vigilance, nervousness, worry about war with Azeris, difficulty falling or staying asleep, flashbacks of the war in Syria, feelings of helplessness and loss on multiple levels (loss of status, loss of economic sustainability, loss of home, loss of family members, loss of community, loss of country, loss of friends and relatives, loss of joy!). Horizontal violence was exemplified in their pulling one another down and projecting their trauma on others. We helped them manage their emotions through the use of the anger wheel, explaining the roots of Horizontal Violence and ways to transform. We also discussed nutrition and healthy foods and supplements to reduce inflammation, promote heart health, and support the musculoskeletal system (magnesium, essential oils of rosemary and lavender, rescue remedy, ginger and cinnamon tea, etc.). Dr Ani led the participants in alternate nostril breathing to transform their headaches and then led them into a guided imagery meditation. We concluded with our Soul-Surfing exercises and they participated eagerly and joyfully! In conclusion we presented them with certificates while they exuberantly applauded and supported one another. We then sponsored 2 children from Syria, meeting with the families at the end of the day.

On 27 April our team left very early to drive two hours northwest of Yerevan to Gyumri to the Diramair, Our Lady of Armenia Educational & Vocational Center. We were greeted warmly by Sister Mariam. Our first group consisted of fifty elders who were seated, eagerly awaiting our arrival. Dr. Ani and the team were embraced by a happy, energized and exuberant group who began dancing, singing, laughing while others were applauding. The room vibrated with everyone’s energy! Many stories of youth, trials, and tribulations were shared. One 90 year old woman shared her memories of WWII, proudly talking about her 16 grandchildren. She said “No one will see sadness or tears” despite the multiple traumas she and others went through: Soviet oppression, earthquake, Azeri war, and severe economic hardships. Dr. Ani led the group in deep breathing and meditation with visualization, and then shared nutritional counseling, and ways to overcome body aches and pains, heart palpitations and breathing problems. There was a sense of peace and calm in the room. After our Heart-to-Heart Circle of Love, hugs were shared and the elders, hungry for the embrace, connection and love, were reluctant to say goodbye. We offered them essential oils of lavender and rosemary as well as small gifts.

The Meaningful world team continued working in Gyumri with two other groups. The first group was composed of 13 eleven to sixteen year olds, along with 10 staff members. The children began to spontaneously sing, putting everyone in the room in a relaxed and happy mood. Dr. Ani then opened with a discussion about managing one’s feelings. The children were very open and responsive, and shared the following feelings: fear of darkness, worry, and disappointment. A very active discussion followed regarding how to transform these negative feelings through the 7-Step Integrative Healing Model, and through the Four Agreements (M. Ruiz). We discussed the Meaningfulworld campaign for transforming Horizontal Violence with the use of our banners of “crab in the bucket.” Everyone then participated in Soul-Surfing exercises, and concluded with the presentation of certificates and gifts, as well as lively singing and circle dancing. At the end of a long day and three successful transformative workshops, our team was treated to a reception and musical performance by the children. We were in awe of their incredible talent and spirit.

The second group in Gyumri consisted of 11 young men, several of whom had served in the army fighting against the Azeris and had returned injured, along with two young women and their teachers. We discussed EQ, the Four Agreements and the 7-Step Integrative Healing Model. Our assessment revealed the following major stressors: 2 April, 2016 war with Azeris where over 150 were killed overnight, beheading Armenians in spite of a cease fire; exodus; unemployment; Ottoman Turkish Genocide; and Gyumri hardship in the aftermath of the devastating 1988 earthquake. Participants’ areas of strength: seeking positive guidance regarding how to handle social situations that exemplify Horizontal Violence; how to protect themselves from public humiliation and embarrassment; and their willingness and openness to express feelings of vulnerability. They assumed that pulling others up will make them more vulnerable. We focused on emotional management and to be the change they want to see, as well as to learn how to protect themselves. During Soul-Surfing many participated eagerly, wanted to excel in their poses, and helping each other with some of the challenging positions. We concluded with our Heart-to-Heart-Circle of Love and they proudly received Meaningfulworld certificates and gifts.

On 28 April, Karitas director, Hasmik greeted us at the Berlin Hotel and we were escorted to the Little Prince Karitas Center in Gyumri with two vehicles, and with the last luggage of our donations! The team met with community mothers for a workshop on managing emotions, The Four Agreements and the 7-Step Integrative Healing Model. Similar feelings of the “Gyumri situation” were expressed concerning a multitude of traumas including but not limited to: earthquake trauma, unemployment, exodus, depression, Azeri war and blockade, and a long, cold winter. Participants were eager to release, talk and join the Soul-Surfing exercises. After the Heart-to- Heart-Circle of Love, participants expressed that they felt relaxed, released their emotional poisons, and were at peace. One participant stated that the toxins in her body were discharged and she felt cleansed! Another expressed that her heart felt open, healthy and full of love. Group 2 was comprised of staff, the director and social workers. They were thirsty for a longer workshop and invited us to return as soon as possible. Participants expressed worry and helplessness regarding horizontal violence and that mediators were needed to create peace within the community. Both groups concluded with presentations of Meaningfulworld certificates as well as several gifts including rosemary and lavender oils, earrings, hygiene products, and Heart- Hug-Dolls for the children. The staff and director invited our team to a healthy lunch from local farmers as well as presented us with gifts, and we had an intimate conversation about how we can help one another to transform helplessness in Gyumri. We sponsored a young adolescent who was in need of money for a much needed surgery. Our time spent in Gyumri was absolutely amazing, and we were filled with awe, gratitude and love!

Summary

When we arrived in Armenia to begin our 15 day mission, we were excited to work with the Armenian and the Syrian-Armenian survivors, as well as meet our multiple goals set forth. We did not anticipate the depth and the breath of the connections that we would make. In 15 days we conducted 17 workshops, in collaboration with 12 organizations (UN, governmental, local and international NGO’s, community centers, faith based organizations, children’s centers, and universities), reaching directly to over 500 people, and indirectly to over 2000 people. In spite of many challenges, the people were open, expressive, warm, and hungry for more. Their positive attitude and sense of humor came through despite their hardships, and helped them transform their pain.

The following programs were developed

1. Campaign on transforming horizontal violence through posters of lifting one another up and not being a “crab in the bucket.” Posters were donated to the collaborative centers;

2. Engaging the disabled to sew Heart-Hug-Dolls in Vanadzor, with a goal to replicate this in other areas;

3. Launching an ecological beautification project – university student volunteer project, to clean the area around the university;

4. Sowing the seeds of launching a Suicide Prevention Hotline;

5. Starting neighborhood and community associations for aesthetic and development purposes;

6. Sponsoring children in need; and expanding to support elders in need;

7. Engaging elders with the children in day care centers, for generational meaning-making;

8. Planting herbs (lavender and rosemary) for health and peace in every home, terrace, garden or porch.

Acknowledgment

Founded in 1990, the Association for Trauma Outreach & Prevention (ATOP) Meaningfulworld, charitable organization affiliated with the United Nations Dept. of Public Information, has achieved international recognition as a leader in training humanitarian outreach professionals as well as responding to two and a half decades of global and local disasters. ATOP is committed to health, justice, peace, transformation and global education promoting state-of-the-art scientific theory on peace, forgiveness, consciousness research, internship, and the development of technical skills to train mental health professionals, teachers, psychologists, art therapists, nutritionists, alternative medicine practitioners, clergy, nurses, mediators, interfaith ministers, and lay persons committed to service the self and humanity. Meaningfulworld Humanitarian Outreach Teams have helped rehabilitate survivors from over 45 countries, and 25 states in USA making a daily difference in people’s lives helping to transform tragedy and trauma into healing and meaning-making through post trauma growth, resilience, emotional intelligence, mindfulness, mind-body-eco-spirit health, visionary leadership, empowerment, artful collaborations, establishing Peace & Forgiveness Gardens to create a new and Meaningfulworld view. We work locally and globally in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, The Caucuses, Europe, and South and North America.

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