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The twins Ruzanna and Syuzanna have not had an easy life, but they are now attending university. Parents, friends, their own spirit and the Armenian partner of Mission East have helped them get this far. Photo: Bridge of Hope
A pair of Armenian twins have overcome many of the limitations that their disability imposed upon them. They are now university students and are grateful to Mission East’s partner organisation, Bridge of Hope, for helping them get this far. By Kim Wiesener, Communications Officer When Ruzanna and Syuzanna were children, it was difficult for them to understand why their lives were different to those of other children. While their peers were having fun at the playground, the twins had to undergo endless treatment and rehabilitation sessions because of their disability - cerebral palsy. The...
Nubarashen, Armenia, 1998. A child eats some of the food that was given to the orphanage by Mission East during the harsh winters. Even children with minor disabilities – such as being cross-eyed – were declared defective and placed in orphanages without any hope of schooling or future work. Photo: Rachel Nicolas
During the 1990s, Mission East distributed food and warm clothes to Armenian orphanages, including Nubarashen 11. But the Soviet attitude towards disability made lives at the orphanages miserable. Jane and Dennis Loze decided to change that. By Line Højland, Communications Officer On a freezing cold Saturday morning in 1998, Dennis and Jane Loze visited Nubarashen 11 – an orphanage for children with ’mental problems’ on the outskirts of the Armenian capital Yerevan. Later, Dennis described the visit in his autobiography: “As we entered the building, the coldness just hit you. It wasn’t just...
Værløse, Denmark, 1992. In October, a Russian Ilyshin transport aircraft flew a whole emergency hospital from Næstved, Denmark, to Sisian in war-torn Armenia. Photo: Mission East
In 1988, an armed conflict broke out over the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan. As the six-year conflict reached its climax, the newly founded aid organisation Mission East decided to send emergency relief to the area. By Line Højland, Communications Officer On 17 October 1992, the founder of Mission East, René Hartzner, was standing at Værløse Air Base with a group of volunteers, getting ready to fly a mobile emergency hospital to Armenia on a Russian Ilyshin transport aircraft. This was the culmination of weeks of preparation and the biggest operation in Mission East’s...
HIV-infected woman and her child
HIV/AIDS is a big taboo in Armenia and is rapidly spreading. Mission East just received over 30 million kroner (ca. 4 million Euro) from The Global Fund for its programs in the area.   Many of the heavily affected countries in Africa report progress in the area of HIV/AIDS but the growth in Eastern Europe is explosive. This is also the case in Armenia, where the need for preventive activities is immense.   “Both the topics of sex and HIV/AIDS are taboos, and the Armenian society needs help if this development is to change. We can see that our programs work, but there is a need to intensify...
Staff at Bridge of Hope, Armenia
Through education and hands-on training Mission East’s long term partner in Armenia has become an even stronger advocate for people with disabilities.   Bridge of Hope, one of Mission East’s closest partners in Armenia, is doing a great job among children and youths with disabilities. To strengthen this work there was a need for improving the methods of monitoring and evaluation that Bridge of Hope uses in its daily work. Furthermore there was a need for more training in financial management.   Therefore, during 2012 the staff received education and hands-on training. Today the result is...
Young people weaving carpets
In Armenia, where for decades disability has been associated with shame and secrecy, some youth with disabilities are finding their way out of isolation and into the labour market. Two schools have opened their doors to the country's first vocational education program for young people with disabilities.   Written by Tania Maria Lüders Rusbjerg, Mission East Journalist 26-year-old Mesrop struggles to keep hold of a shovel. The water jug isn’t easy to grasp, and the rake is hard to handle. When the students are taught to dig or sow flowers in the school garden, he struggles a little more than...
Kim Hartzner signs papers
From among 21 potential organisations, Mission East has been chosen to lead NGOs in Armenia in their fight against AIDS. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which accounts for one quarter of the world's resources to fight AIDS, has partnered with Mission East in the effort to halt the spread of this epidemic in Armenia. Up until 2015, Mission East will be responsible for distributing funds for HIV/AIDS programmes in Armenia, and monitoring the work of local NGOs running these programmes. Mission East is taking this role over from World Vision, the world's largest...
Arman with very colourful toys
"It was a tremendous feeling of powerlessness that washed over me when I first met ten-year-old Arman and his family and listened to their story. To see how such suffering can destroy an entire family’s life… it is hard to witness," says Kim Hartzner, Managing Director of Mission East. Arman was born with his umbilical cord around his neck and almost suffocated. Later he got an inflammation in the navel, and pneumonia. Yet he didn’t go to the hospital in the first three months of his life. The family couldn’t afford it. Arman’s father left them seven years ago, and now the five family members...

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