Famtofam originated as a relief effort in the terrible earthquake on December 27, 1988 in Armenia. In NO-Fryslan people stood up who wanted to help to alleviate the misery there. At first this was informal, but on April 4, 2001 Hoite Spijkstra, Ieke Zwart, Goitzen Monsma and Henk Hoekstra formally founded the Famtofam foundation.
And in all those years that followed, Famtofam has grown into a small, professional foundation that has been able to help many families in Armenia. ‘Small’, because the (board) members of the foundation did and still do everything on a voluntary basis. ‘Professional’ because the processes of aid delivery are streamlined, money flows that go directly to those for whom they are intended without the intervention of anyone. In addition, Famtofam makes effective use of the possibilities that ICT offers us today.
But even more important are our three contact persons “in the field”, there in Armenia. They are crucial to Famtofam and ensure that families are visited and guided there. Great appreciation for their efforts in often difficult circumstances.
However, all the support that Famtofam offers can only be realized by people here who have a warm heart for the children in Gyumri. That has been the foundation of Famtofam from day 1: the sponsor. The sponsor who gives Famtofam the confidence that his / her money will end up in the right place in Armenia without money ‘hanging on the bow’.
Looking back on those 20 years of Famtofam, I see that a lot has been achieved. Starting with child sponsorship: we have been able to support a total of 580 children. In addition, the necessary ‘projects’ have been set up to provide extra help. Think of: renovating a gym, relocating a bakery from the Netherlands and making it operational in Armenia, help to schools such as in Vahramaberd and Hatsik and help to an orphanage in Gyumri. The latest activity of Famtofam is the Study Fund, which was founded 3 years ago. The first 3 students have now received a scholarship from this Study Fund for 4 years.
When I write all of this, however, I fully realize that 20 years of Famtofam is not something to celebrate, but it is something to reflect on in this special time. A time when Covid-19 is forcing us to take measures to allow the work in Armenia to continue.
Even though I do see some bright spots here and there, the situation is improving for the very poorest. Nevertheless, the help of Famtofam will (unfortunately) remain necessary for the time being. And that is why we continue to help the poorest of Gyumri. We constantly ask ourselves how we can do it better and more effectively.