A study conducted in every household in Armenia in 2010 looked at real employment rates for different groups of individuals on the basis of various parameters such as socio-economic status, gender, age, level of urbanization, etc. One of its findings was that the employment rate is the lowest for the youth in Armenia (age group 16-24) at 23.2%. Although a majority of these youths are engaged in academic activity at this age, upon completing their degrees there has been found to be many challenges for them to find employment. This in turn creates social tension at the community level as well as increased stress and depression at the individual level.
Engaging such youth in volunteering activities not only helps them acquire certain professional skills that are attractive to employers and increase employment rates, but also has positive externalities for peace building and community building. The UN Volunteers have also come up with the benefits of youth engagement:
- Outcome 1: Increased recognition of the contribution of youth to global peace and sustainable human development through volunteerism, and inclusion of youth voices in the development discourse.
- Outcome 2: Improved capacity of relevant stakeholders to support an enabling environment for regional, national and community youth volunteering for global peace and sustainable human development.
- Outcome 3: Increased and diversified opportunities for young people to contribute to global peace and sustainable human development work
Thus given this scenario of the youth employment rates in Armenia, the individual and social benefits of volunteering work, HasNa’s projects such as VITA (Volunteering in Turkey and Armenia) is in sync with our mission statement of promoting peace building and development. The project entailed training activities for youth participants from both countries that can build their capacity to facilitate and promote more volunteerism in the area. Bringing the youth of Armenia and Turkey further allows for conversation and sharing of ideas and opportunities, which can lead to collaborative sustained growth in the region. In the follow up program to the VITA concrete results were seen. 66 young people participated in the follow up projects that were started by member of the initial VITA program by HasNa. Members shared and volunteered a range of their skill as well as sharing experiences from DC to implement in their homes. Be It in the area of IT/ Web design, social media skills, local dance or even healthier ways of cooking, these volunteers are coming together and building ideas and strategy to be resourceful and lay the seeds for future youth volunteers to make this a self-sustained model.
This post is written by Rohini Ray, who is currently working as a volunteer for HasNa. Rohini recently graduated from Smith College with a degree in Economics and Physics. She is interested in the middle-east with her independent research looking at the oil and exchange rates in the area.