Spring can be Possible with Just one Flower

Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Taguhi Machkalyan, (left in left picture) and Anahit Harutyunyan (right picture), Social Workers in Armenia
USAID's Community Level Access to Social Services (CLASS) project

An old Armenian adage says that “spring is impossible with one flower.”  Armenian social workers, Anahit Harutyunyan and Taguhi Machkalyan, have shown that individuals can make a significant impact on their communities - serving as the single flower that ushers in a new season of improved social support for Armenian communities.

Since 2017, USAID has been working to support social workers through the Community Level Access to Social Services (CLASS) project, which has helped the Government of Armenia to develop a workforce of community social workers that support towns and villages to identify, prevent, and address their own social issues. Additionally, CLASS has trained over 86 social workers, and has helped improve the lives of the most vulnerable children and families in over 60 communities throughout Armenia.

“I take [the] concerns of my fellow villagers close to heart, I see my grandchildren in each of the kids, and my daughter-in-law in every daughter-in-law,” says Anahit, who works in Mrgashat, a village in a western province of Armenia. Anahit is the only social worker serving a community of over 6,300 people.  As a result of her training, she was able to better track the vulnerable families in her village and connect them to social services and resources.  Taguhi Machkalyan, the only social worker in Ayrum, the village where she lives in a north eastern province of Armenia, is in contact with approximately 150 families every day.  It is not uncommon to see her working late into the night to help solve their problems. She serves as a bridge between the people of Ayrum and state agencies that are able to solve their issues.

Over the years, USAID has supported social protection systems in Armenia that help to reduce and prevent the institutionalization of children. Through the efforts of community social workers, CLASS has reunited 208 institutionalized children with their families and has helped over 6,000 others through referral and support programs. As a result, the Government of Armenia has recognized the benefits of investment in social work and services, and is actively working to grow the sector. 

Taguhi and Anahit are just two of the first 19 graduates from Yerevan State University’s new online certification course established by CLASS in cooperation with the Armenian Association of Social Workers and Yerevan State University. These graduates are joining the ranks of Armenia's fledgling initiative to develop social workers across the country and to connect those in need to services. And though they may only be one flower in their villages, they are signaling the beginning of spring.

Last updated: March 25, 2020

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