Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Armenia-Georgia study tour sponsored by the Brethren and Heifer.

A study tour to Armenia and Georgia jointly sponsored by the Church of the Brethren and Heifer International takes place Sept. 17-Oct. 1. Tour hosts are Jan West Schrock, a senior advisor for Heifer International and a former director of Brethren Volunteer Service, and Kathleen Campanella, director of Partner and Public Relations at the Brethren Service Center.

"Our trip is an exciting opportunity to experience Heifer’s approach to development," Schrock said. "We’ll explore and learn the diverse history and traditions of both Georgia and Armenia, visit the genocide museum in Armenia, learn about and worship in an Orthodox Armenian church, and witness the outreach work of the Church of the Brethren in the past and currently."

The tour will begin Sept. 17 with arrival at Tbilisi International Airport in Georgia, continuing with several days in Georgia visiting Heifer projects in the Caucasus mountain region of Kazbegi and the Black Sea area. The tour will then spend several days in Armenia, beginning Sept. 22, visiting a cross-border cooperation project, a "Peace to Our Homes" project, family farms, and a village rehabilitation project, among others. The tour will include cultural sites such as the Noravanq Monastery in Armenia. Departure on Oct. 1 will be from Armenia.

A number of Heifer staff from Armenia and Georgia will join the tour including Anahit Ghazanchyan, Heifer Armenia Country Director; and George Murvanidze, Heifer Georgia Country Director.

The Heifer program in the South Caucasus region began in 1999. Since then, it has been implementing over 34 projects assisting more than 5,000 families in Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan to build their own family farms. The organization places various types of animals such as cows, goats, sheep, beehives, rabbits, chickens, fish, turkeys, buffalos, and bull calves, along with Californian worms, potato seeds, alfalfa seeds, wheat seeds, and fruit tree seedlings.

Heifer Armenia’s statement of purpose includes improvement of the socio-economic situation of vulnerable groups through development of rural communities, finding solutions for economic and ecological problems, spiritual renewal, and strengthening peace in the region. Priority issues are rural development, regional cooperation, community empowerment, knowledge management, youth development, financial viability, partnership, and networking. The program employs 12 full time and 10 project staff in Armenia, and has 149 community leaders and 1,200 youth leaders involved. In ongoing Georgian projects, Heifer partners with three national organizations and five community representatives in the "Peace to Our Homes" regional cooperation project.

The deadline to apply for the study tour is May 15. Cost is $3,500 per person for double occupancy, single occupancy is on request with additional charges. A deposit of $1,000 is due with the application, and is refundable up to 60 days before departure. Participants may request continuing education units.

A 40-page booklet in pdf format is available with the itinerary, a review of the work of Heifer in the Caucasus region, background on Armenia and Georgia, biographies of staff, and more. For trip information contact Jan Schrock at or 207-878-6846.

Source: 2/12/2009 Newsline Extra

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