Heroes of Javakhk

Here are some personal thoughts as a reaction to my experience at AYF’s Camp Javakhk Akhalkalak….

A small centre – the right side children, the left side parents – in the middle with a nervous counsellor, myself.

Welcome to the first day of Camp Javakhk. It only took a few minutes in the same room with 30 eight to thirteen year olds to realize the ‘pari’ nature of the children of Javakhk. They always offer a helping hand and rarely treat anyone with disrespect. I figure the attitude of the children must simply reflect that of their families and environment: Always relaxed, always helpful and overly generous, similar to the peaceful environment of Akhalkalak.

There is no alarm better than opening the blinds to see a blue sky and the green mountains. There is no wake-up activity better than one deep breath of the clean air of Javakhk, which is so different to the polluted London air I have become so accustomed to. And there is no better thing to do with my day than spend quality time with children who have an incredible thirst for knowledge, an unbelievable enthusiasm for all activities, and hearts made of gold. There is no better feeling than to see a smile too big for a little girl or boy’s face when they wave goodbye looking forward to another day of Camp Javakhk.

Today a little girl called Amelia who takes part in Camp Javakhk was questioning me about my hometown of London. “How big is the tallest building?” She asked. “Bigger than 10 people standing on top of each other?”

In many places in our Javakhk adventure many people have complimented our work, some have even called us heroes. These compliments spur me on to work harder, and give me personal satisfaction.

But then a thought goes through my head, one that gives another sense of perspective. Aren’t the Javakhktsis the real heroes? Isn’t Amelia the real hero? The girl who lives in an area which the authorities are trying the best to ‘de-Armeniafy’? Isn’t Amelia the real hero? The girl who learns Armenian poems nightly, and proudly sings songs about her homeland with strength of spirit I can only dream to see elsewhere.

Aren’t Amelia’s parents the real heroes? Who bring up their daughter as an Armenian staying true to her roots and culture when, at every level, attempts are being made to prevent this?
Isn’t Amelia the real hero? Javakhk a few weeks of my year, this is her life.

And no Amelia, ten people standing on top of each other is not nearly as tall as London’s tallest building. But ten Javakhktsi’s maybe.

 — Contributor

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