‘ADOPT-A-VILLAGE’ Making a difference, one Armenian village at a time By Alexander Galitsky Village-to-village Adopt-a-Village (AAV)
other village adoption projects require a
is the brainchild of New Zealander Len
minimum funding threshold to under-
Wicks and his wife Armine Hakobyan.
take projects, AAV’s programs in many
The concept is straightforward: diaspo-
cases involve little or no cash, instead
ran communities are matched with a
utilising a wealth of diasporan resources
region of Armenia and work collabora-
in direct person-to-person interaction,
tively with leadership of local villages
training, skill exchange and consultation.
(and indirectly with local/regional governments) to undertake projects to benefit
A fresh approach for diaspora-home-
the community. AAV works in concert
land relations AAV’s approach is also
with two other projects: the ‘Origins’ pro-
unique in terms of the Armenian dias-
ject, a movie trilogy aimed at attracting
pora’s role in homeland development.
tourism to the revitalised villages; and
To date, the organised diaspora’s devel-
the Genocide Project that actively pro-
opment strategy has been focused on
motes recognition of crimes against hu-
political advocacy and lobbying for of-
manity and the need for reparations.
ficial development assistance from host governments. These initiatives perhaps
The concept of ‘Adopt-a-Village’ isn’t new
add most value in terms of their capac-
- but it is unique. Several other projects
ity to engage with developmental in-
that operate on a similar basis to micro-
stitutions such as the UNDP and USAID.
However, there are obstacles at every
in post-colonial indigenous communi-
stage of the process: bureaucratic bar-
ties and underdeveloped areas in South
riers from diaspora organisations, host
America, Africa and Southeast Asia. What
differentiates AAV from other programs
ganisations and the homeland govern-
is its implementation. Whereas many
ment; and in the implementation stage.