Worse than in the war

Ani Barsegyan

The kindergarten in Yerevan survived the years 1992 to 1995. These were very difficult, “dark and cold” for Armenia. But the impasse we reached last year was an unprecedented challenge. Despite the war in the early 1990s, parents brought their children to the kindergarten and tried to help us. Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were forced to close the kindergarten from time to time. In this difficult year 2020, the Friends of Waldorf Education stood by us.

Our kindergarten has never been a for-profit enterprise and the fees we take for children have always just covered the monthly expenses. But last year, difficulties began that hardly anyone could have foreseen.

For a long time we could not work at all because of the COVID restrictions, then we were allowed to work but not to take in new children. No more than twelve children were allowed to be in the kindergarten, which meant that the income did not cover the expenses. We also had to lay off some of our staff. However, because we have a group of loyal parents, we decided to continue working in small groups. A Waldorf kindergarten should be able to work in any situation. Both the parents and the children need this very much.

In the last eight months, we staff have twice been paid a government grant equal to the minimum wage of AMD 68,000 (110 USD). Since we pay rent for our building, the donations have helped us a lot. Although the landlords were accommodating, we had to pay a minimum rent in any case. With the money we were also able to pay for the maintenance of the building, the household expenses and the salaries of 15 staff members.

On 27 September 2020, war broke out again but the support gives us hope that we are not alone in the world. Many parents have withdrawn their children from kindergarten because of the insecurity. Some of them could no longer pay their fees. To this day, we have children who have lost a parent because of the war. The survivors cannot pay, but we cannot deny them our help either.

Slowly, our normal everyday life is now returning. The excursions that we have integrated into the kindergarten’s daily routine have made it a “wandering kindergarten”. The children are now out in the fresh air more, have the opportunity to move around more. In this way we try to better prepare them for the rest of their lives. Despite the difficulties, the Yerevan Waldorf Kindergarten will continue to work and live. This year, in June 2021, it was 30 years old.

About the author: Ani Barsegyan is group leader in the “Yellow Lark” kindergarten in Yerevan