- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 December 5 , 2003 

Outside Eye: A non-Armenian's view of life in his adopted home

Guys like Tim Straight inspire me. On this week's site there's a story about a really cool project he dreamed up. Women like Shakeh Havan inspire me, too. She's a businesswoman who recently started a book project for kids in Armenian villages that I hope you'll read about soon.

Plenty of other people here, too - expatriates, Diaspora and, especially forward-thinking locals, encourage those around them to step outside themselves.

Which is where ArmeniaNow will be stepping next Friday when we produce a special edition called "HyeSanta".

Next week on this site we will publish articles about people who need your help.

That's not so unusual. Often we have reported stories about social needs, including failures and shortcomings, in Armenia. We do it because its what journalists ought to do - show the country as it is, even if it isn't the way we wish it were.

Often you have responded and asked how you might help. Next week, and through January 3 (just before Armenian Christmas) we will be giving you a way to do that.

"HyeSanta" will tell the stories of several individuals and families who could well use a financial gift this holiday season (and all the rest of the year). Of course there are thousands such stories that could be told, so we solicited help in finding those that best illustrate common needs. A group of international aid agencies and local non governmental organizations helped our reporters find sources who are disabled, orphaned, abandoned or merely bypassed or overlooked. In telling their stories, we will also tell you who might be trying to fix such conditions.

Maybe the way Tim Straight had the notion to start a project for refugee knitters, one morning I woke up with the idea for "HyeSanta". My thought isn't entirely original, though. Every newspaper I worked for ran such programs during the winter holidays season. As far as we know, however, no publication in Armenia has tried something of the sort.

And for that very reason, a print version of next week's ArmeniaNow will be inserted into about 30,000 copies of local newspapers. We want to be sure that the gift of giving isn't reserved just to our mostly-foreign audience.

If we don't collect a single dram, we will at least, like Tim says, "plant the seed" of helping Armenia help itself. That alone is worth a lot.

I'm betting, though, that "HyeSanta" will accomplish much more and am grateful for a chance to employ advocacy journalism in a place where every little bit can make a difference.

One thing I like about living here is that good ideas usually get a chance to be tested. When I first introduced "HyeSanta" to our staff, the reaction was "Yeah, we could do that".

Yeah, we can. If you are who I think you are.

According to Agnes
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  Photo of the week
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Out of step with the times?

About 100 hardliners marched in Yerevan last Saturday to mark the 83 year anniversary of Armenia becoming a communist country. Many oldtimers wish it were, still.





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