"I can perceive well the state of my country and my city and I have the wish to have a personal contribution in changing that.”
See how Gor in Gyumri, Armenia and the youth group of many former sponsored children are transforming their community, one family at a time!
I had the opportunity to visit Armenia this past winter where I saw the haunting effects of the past—the wars, the Soviet occupation, and a devastating earthquake. But I also saw great pride in all things Armenian, unceasing hospitality, and hearts filled with compassion.
Despite the hardships of their past, I have great hopes for the future of Armenia and can sum it up in one word—Gor.
Gor, rhymes with Thor, and in common with that Norse god, Gor in Armenian means a loud noise, like thunder.
Despite his thunderous name, Gor Torosyan speaks softly. Children eagerly climb into his lap and use the diminutive version of his name—Gorik.
But his quiet nature masks his powerful spirit.
“I am passionate. I am devoted because I can perceive well the state of my country and my city and I have the wish to have a personal contribution in changing that,” says the 26-year-old from Gyumri, Armenia.
He and his fellow youth group members in a church supported by World Vision have dedicated themselves to changing the world around them.
The local church started this particular youth group two years ago. Gor first got acquainted with World Vision and its mission in 2010 during summer youth camps where he served as a camp counselor.
World Vision provided the youth with things like leadership training and project management skills. World Vision also worked with the clergy, teaching them to care for social needs in the community around them. That training made its way to the youth in Gor’s group.
They started with small charity projects such as clothing giveaways, making food packages for vulnerable families, and tutoring local children. But they wanted to do more.
“We perceived a greater need,” says Gor. The group hatched a plan to purchase a home for a family in extreme need.
In 1988, a devastating earthquake wiped out much of Gyumri. Families in the area who lost homes were placed on a list to receive new shelter. Twenty-seven years later, that list still exists.
But Gor and friends wanted to target the families who weren’t even included on the list and had no hope of ever receiving a new shelter from the government. They might have been sharing a home with another family when the earthquake struck, or they might not have been registered, so they couldn’t be listed to receive a new shelter.
Gor and the youth group needed to raise $15,000 to purchase a new home for a family. They formulated a plan to print 15,000 greeting cards and sell them for $1 each. They involved local businesses, the government, members of the community, and other youth across the country.
Meanwhile they did research on the families with the greatest needs and finally narrowed it down to two. They couldn’t choose, so with the archbishop they held a lottery. Then in December 2013, they went to see the family who had told the youth their biggest need: two weeks’ worth of firewood.
The family couldn’t raise their dreams higher than that. They really had no hope.
Gor and his friends said they couldn’t grant the family’s wish for firewood, but instead handed them the deed to their own home.
In 2014, Gor and the group did it again, this time for the other family who hadn’t won the lottery the first year. Gor says it was easier the second year to raise the money because the businesses, government, and community knew the goal and stood behind the youth.
While in Armenia, I met the second family who received a new home. Tehmineh, the mother, told me, “Had we worked for our entire lives, we would not have been able afford [a place like this]. It was something totally out of our reach.”
Because of youth like Gor, I know that even once World Vision’s programs end in this area, the future is in good hands. He says, “Wherever there is a desire, a wish, almost anything can be achievable. Very little is impossible.”
That drive and that determination rumbles across Armenia, a country of so many setbacks, because of young men like Gor—whose name means thunder—a super hero who is defeating the odds.
Join us in bringing hope to families and communities in Armenia. Sponsor a child today!
Read more stories from our Bloggers Trip to Armenia.