N-Map was invited by the Human Rights and Governance Grants Program at the Open Society Institute to go to Armenia participate in a communications training for the Foundation’s grantees there. It was a really fantastic experience. We presented to about 20 of OSI’s grantees on video advocacy and met some courageous and creative human rights advocates working to build civil society in Armenia.
I was very impressed with how social media saavy many of the organizations were. One of the most exciting is the Women’s Resource Center, which is creating a powerful movement to push for change on a variety of vital issues, from gender-based violence to palliative care.
One of the most interesting activists we met was a photographer named Hayk Bianjyan, who is dedicating his live to preserving historic buildings in Yerevan. Much of historic Yerevan is being torn down at an alarming rate to build modern – and often characterless – developments. In addition, there is a massive human toll, as Armenia’s eminent domain laws remain quite draconian. It is a huge tragedy, particularly for a city as ancient and beautiful as Yerevan.
Hayk took me to one of the last remaining historic buildings, which he has dedicated himself to preserving. Take a look at the Facebook page dedicated to preservation of the building, as well as some photos that I shot there.
And take a look at this video featuring Hayk: