Kindergarten in Azerbaijan Reopens After 18 Years

By Maggie Farrand

On September 15th, 2010, in the village of Boyuk Bahmanli, playful laughter filled the quiet air of the newly reconstructed kindergarten. The walls of this kindergarten in the Fizuli region of Azerbaijan hadn’t heard laughter since 1992 when the village became a battleground during the conflict with Armenia.

“I always believed that the day would come when our kindergarten will be full of my little villagers again. What can be better than seeing happy and smiling faces of children?” asked Gudrat Aliyeva, the Boyuk Bahmanli School’s headmaster.

“I am thankful to Counterpart, as this organization gave a second wind to our kindergarten,”  she said walking from room to room and proudly looking at the children playing with their new toys. “I just want to forget the times when our kindergarten was in ruins.”

Providing better kindergarten education

Counterpart began its partnership with Boyuk Bahmanli in April 2009, as part of the 12-month Children's Education in IDP Communities Project (CEP) funded by the Bureau on Population, Migration and Refugees (BPRM), U.S. Department of State started in October 2009.

Counterpart rehabilitated a dilapidated kindergarten for the largest settlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Fizuli District of Azerbaijan. In addition, Counterpart strengthened the capacity of IDP community-based organizations and municipalities in three villages of Fizuli (Boyuk Bahmanli, Ashagi and Yuxari Kurdmahmudlu) to improve children's education. 

As a result, more than 30 teachers have been trained on a special early childhood development program which will help raise the quality of education in kindergartens of three villages.

More than just reconstruction

Throughout the project implementation, Counterpart engaged in dialogue and closely coordinated the activities with the local community as well as the National Advisory Committee, established specifically for this project, comprised of representatives of the Cabinet of Ministers, Ministry of Education, US Embassy, USAID and State Mine Awareness Agency.

On September 14, 2010 the members of Boyuk Bahmanli community gathered together to celebrate the opening ceremony of the newly rehabilitated kindergarten. The red ribbon was cut by Nabi Mukhtarov, Head of Fizuli Executive Power; Brigette S. Buchet, Political Officer; and Ryan Campbell, The Second Secretary of Embassy of the United States of America in Azerbaijan.

Now, thanks to this reconstruction project and the capacity strengthening that accompanied it, more than 100 children have access to valuable pre-school education. The kindergarten features a new playground, and modern furnishings, toys and educational materials. It also has a new heating system, its own medical office, kitchen and laundry.

The Children’s Education for IDP Communities project is funded by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of State Department and implemented by Counterpart International. The goal of the project is to provide access to pre-school education for children aged 3-6 for successful transition into schools in IDP communities in Azerbaijan. Learn more about Counterpart's Children's Education in IDP Communtiies project.

Read this story's coverage in Azerbaijan's national newspaper.

October 18th, 2010 | Tags: Azerbaijan, Boyuk Bahmanli, BPRM, Bureau on Population, Migration and Refugees, kindergarten, rehabilitation | Category: Impact Stories | Leave a comment

Reconstruction of Otuzikiler Maternity Station in Azerbaijan

Situation

Counterpart International completely reconstructed the Otuzikiler Maternity Station, which has provided necessary prenatal and neonatal care for several villages in southern Azerbaijan since 1947. Located in the Imishli region, 275 km (170 miles) away from the capital Baku, the Maternity Station was in dire need of renovations.

The four-room station serves more than 2,500 people in the area, and in recent years, pregnant women were forced to seek treatment and consultations at other hospitals located further away. Due to the high humidity, the walls and ceiling had deteriorated. The wooden floor was old and rotten. There was no proper heating system, only an iron stove with an exhaust pipe going through a broken window. And there was no indoor bathroom or toilet.

What We Did

Through the US Department of State funded Small Reconstruction Project, Counterpart replaced the ceilings and floors; plastered and repainted the walls; installed a brand new drain and waste system; and replaced windows and doors with plastic ones. Counterpart also restored the electricity system, and installed outlets and lamps.

The maternity station’s staff assisted in cleaning the construction site from debris; laying stone blocks; and plastering during the reconstruction. They also provided fuel and electricity. The local municipality donated a 1.0 metric ton iron water tank to provide the station with a permanent water supply.Counterpart donated four beds and two drawers through the commodity distribution project.

These renovations have provided the Otuzikiler Maternity Station with better conditions for patients, pregnant women and their newborn children. Moreover, patients will not have to go to the regional hospital located about 25 km (15 miles) away for routine medical check-ups and will be able to stay in comfortable conditions under the observation and care of local physicians.

To learn more about Counterpart’s Small Reconstruction Projects throughout the Former Soviet Union, visit our Web site.

October 6th, 2010 | Tags: Azerbaijan, maternity, reconstruction, Small Reconstruction Project, SRP Azerbaijan, women | Category: Impact Stories | Leave a comment

Reconstruction of Dede-Gorgud Village Medical Point in Azerbaijan

Situation

The Medical Point of Dede-Gorgud, constructed in 1986, provides medical services for more than 800 families in the area. Located in the Saatli region of Azerbaijan, about 200 km (124 miles) away from the capital Baku, the building is remote and has not been renovated since it was first built.

Over the last few years, patients have begun refusing to accept medical procedures at the Medical Point due to the substandard situation and absence of proper sanitary and hygiene conditions. Approximately 400 patients and 60 pregnant women choose to seek treatment at other, farther away hospitals every year.

What We Did

Through the US Department of State Small Reconstruction Project initiative, Counterpart International was able to fully reconstruct the six-room Medical Point. New ceilings were installed using more durable plastic materials. Floors were replaced with a new linoleum cover. The walls were plastered and repainted, and the windows and doors were replaced with plastic ones. The electricity system was restored, and a completely new drain and waste system was installed. Counterpart was also able to convert one room into a bathroom, so personnel and patients would not have to use the outdoor bathroom.

The Medical Point’s staff helped the project by cleaning the site of debris; laying stone blocks; and plastering during the reconstruction. They also provided fuel and electricity. The local municipality donated a 1.0 metric ton iron water tank so the Medical Point will now have a consistent water supply. Counterpart distributed five beds and three drawers to this institution from its commodity distribution project.

Counterpart’s Small Reconstruction Project has provided the Medical Point with better conditions for its patients. Moreover, the area families will no longer have travel to the Central Region Hospital located about 22 km away.

To learn more about Counterpart’s Small Reconstruction Projects throughout the Former Soviet Union, visit our Web site.

October 4th, 2010 | Tags: Azerbaijan, reconstruction, Small Reconstruction Project, SRP Azerbaijan | Category: Impact Stories | Leave a comment

Viewpoint Photo: Fiji

By Maggie Farrand

Seen here: A group of men transport ripe pineapples to their village. As part of the Regional Nutrition Action project, the Foundation for the South Pacific (FSP) worked alongside villages to increase their agricultural production in order to provide easily accessible, nutritious food.

In the 1970s, the Regional Nutrition Action project increased the availability of and access to nutritious food throughout the Namosi village of Fiji and introduce innovative community development activities.

Counterpart International, then the Foundation for the South Pacific (FSP), began its work in Fiji in the 1960s with a farming co-op and village remodeling project. For the next 30 years, FSP would continue working in Fiji, focusing on nutrition programs that brought new and improved fishing techniques, education about proper nutrition practices and practical ways to alleviate malnourishment among pregnant women.

The Regional Nutrition Action project, a 5 year program, worked closely with the Fiji Department of Health to initiate widespread education campaigns and provide nutritious food to mothers and their children. FSP designed a Nutrition Newsletter, targeting medical personnel, social workers and civil servants, on proper nutrition and health practices. The project also introduced community development activities to promote local businesses and income-generation for the villagers.

Learn more about our history on our website.

 

*This photograph is part of a series on Counterpart's blog called Viewpoint Photos. Each Viewpoint post highlights Counterpart's work in a country through the use of a single still image.

October 1st, 2010 | Tags: agriculture, Fiji, Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific, FSP, nutrition, pineapple, Regional Nutrition Action Project, Viewpoint | Category: | Leave a comment

Armenian Civil Society Index National Workshop Identifies Opportunities to Empower Civil Society

By the final session of the Armenian Civil Society Index (CSI) National Workshop, participants were tired. They had been hard at work since 9:30am, and by 6pm there was still much to be done. But as the members of the three task forces filed into the Manoogian Auditorium at the American University of Armenia and began presenting their final action plans, something unprecedented and exciting started to happen: for the first time in Armenia, civil society representatives had an honest conversation about the state of civil society in Armenia, without the input or guidance of any international donors.

It was the final plenary session of the CSI National Workshop. The event was constructed to bring together a broad range of civil society actors and partners in government, the business community, media, donors and academia to discuss the CSI findings, identify strengths and weaknesses of civil society and plan appropriate strengthening initiatives.

There were 84 participants from Yerevan and 11 other regions of Armenia in attendance. Counterpart International was pleased to welcome Deputy Minister of Health of Armenia Tatul Hakobyan, and USAID Deputy Mission Director John Seong who delivered opening remarks. Participants were also welcomed via video by CIVICUS Secretary General Ingrid Srinath. After a presentation of the research findings in the opening plenary session, the real work began. Participants broke into five working groups organized around the five dimensions in the CSI. The working groups reviewed and discussed the research findings and carried out an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) to civil society in Armenia. True to form, many lively debates were held throughout the sessions with active involvement from the participants.

After the SWOT analysis, it was time for participants to explore the concrete implications that the CSI research has on civil society in Armenia. Using the findings and the discussion, participants brainstormed priority areas that need to be addressed to strengthen civil society. The main priorities identified were the need to strengthen the institutional capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs), enhance the legitimacy of CSOs and to create consultancy mechanisms to fund organizations and CSOs.

From these working groups and priorities, ‘task forces’ were created. They met and drew up concrete action plans, including strategies, specific tasks and potential partners. The actions identified include promoting civic education, fostering closer cooperation with all stakeholders (government, media and business) and networking and coalition building. It was hard work, but it is important to build a foundation that will strengthen Armenia’s civil society.

And it was all to culminate here, in the final plenary session, with the presentation of the action plans. Despite the long workday, once the presentations began participants became re-energized. The future of civil society organizations in Armenia was debated and representatives discussed how that sector alone would be able to generate success and create lasting structures through intersectoral collaboration. As foreign donor funding to Armenia is certainly going to decrease in the coming years, it is vital for the sector to begin to prepare itself for this new reality.

During this final session, several project ideas were put forth that can potentially lead to a stronger and more sustainable civil society. Counterpart will now take the lead in creating a platform to turn these plans into action. Further meetings between participants will allow for the development of final actions plans and, with Counterpart’s help, the task forces will then have the opportunity to realize them.

Learn more about Counterpart's Civic Advocacy Support Program in Armenia.

September 29th, 2010 | Tags: Armenia, CASP, CIVICUS, civil society, Civil Society Index, civil society organizations, CSOs | Category: Impact Stories | Leave a comment

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