Since gaining its independence in 1991 with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, landlocked Armenia has endured a devastating earthquake, economic collapse, and war with neighboring Azerbaijan resulting in the ongoing closure of its eastern and western borders. Armenia’s geographic isolation, lack of employment opportunities, and dependence on the perilous Russian economy contribute to the large numbers of vulnerable youth living in extreme poverty, single-parent homes, foster care or crisis centers.
They are lucky if they receive more than just the basics, as little assistance exists for the approximately one-third of Armenian families living in poverty. Many social institutions are ill-equipped to handle the serious issues impoverished young people face. The public schools push them through the system without encouraging their education or development, failing to integrate them into Armenian society.
After these severely disadvantaged youths graduate from school and/or age out of alternative care at 18, they are forced to leave these structured environments, often with nowhere to go. They lack the solid emotional foundations and educational resources needed for safe and successful living, and will perpetuate the cycle of dependency into the next generation. They are highly susceptible to exploitation, and are at serious risk for lifelong social and psychological problems including: