Stories of Empowerment – Hovhannes Karapetyan

Date: 23 March 2012

Hovhannes Karapetyan or “Hovo” the way his friends and community members call him. He is 25 years old and lives in Daranak village, Gegharkunik Region of Armenia. He is married and has 2 children. Notwithstanding that he has completed only 8 years of school he has been actively engaged in his community mobilization and development efforts.

As an active youth representative Hovo was elected by his community as a member of Daranak youth initiative group established in the framework of rural development program implemented by the YMCA in Armenia with the support of HEKS-EPER. Hovo has undergone several capacity building trainings on democracy and social change, participatory community needs assessment, project design and management.

“Since YMCA in Armenia started to work with the youth of our community many things have changed. It has changed the way I perceive myself and my community. We have started to believe that we –the youth can make a positive change in our community. Now it is easier for us to mobilize around the community priority issues and try to solve them together.” Hovo further adds: “YMCA trainings have provided me with knowledge and skills that I had no opportunity to obtain from anywhere else. Also, thanks to the YMCA I have made many good friends from close-by communities.”

Recognizing Hovo’s leadership capacity Daranak youth initiative group (YIG) elected him as the leader of their group. Under his leadership Daranak YIG carried out community needs assessment, organizing focus group discussions, surveys and community meetings to reveal and prioritize key community issues. The YIG has also crafted a project proposal to address one of the prioritized community needs utilizing the micro-project opportunity offered in the scope of the rural development project.

The vivid evidence of the YIG’s growing authority and influence is the fact that the local government seeing the importance of youth engagement and influence on community development offered Hovo to work at the local government as the assistant/advisor of the village mayor on various community development issues.