Pokr Vedi village is home to 3,000 souls, Christians nestled in the valley of Noah’s Mount Ararat between Turkey, Russia and Iran. Residents of the Armenian village remember ancestors brutally exiled and annihilated by the Ottomans 100 years ago—a horror still unrecognized by Turkey, whose closed border lies just a few miles away. Just 25 years ago these villagers lived under the Soviet state and have struggled to provide for their families ever since.
How does one subsist with no resources to cultivate his land or her business? How does one recover faith after genocide and atheism?
For the last several years, the Jinishian Memorial Program has helped these villagers form an agricultural cooperative to share equipment, technology, marketing tools and the vision not merely to survive but to move from communism to community. Low-interest loans, vital to their small businesses, were previously impossible to obtain. The Jinishian program fosters economic development through micro-lending to hundreds of farmers throughout Armenia. Participants in the Pokr Vedi cooperative faithfully repay their loans and have begun to flourish. To further encourage the community to invest in its own growth, Jinishian sponsored a grant competition. Pokr Vedi’s proposal to repair their kindergarten won the grant.
Residents here trace their faith to the village’s ancient Khor Virap monastery, where St. Gregory the Illuminator miraculously survived years of imprisonment and starvation to share Christ with the pagan king around 300 A.D. Today, the Jinishian program helps send thousands of children from Armenian villages to summer camp to encounter this God—who is still freeing and feeding the children he loves—for themselves.