As a former Peace Corps volunteer and a 20-year veteran of the corporate marketing world, I’ve seen my fair share of economic development projects. Now, I am in Armenia as part of a program that partners Peace Corps response volunteers with MCC projects. My main responsibility has been assisting the Communication team at MCA-Armenia (the Armenian government entity responsible for implementing the MCC Compact in Armenia) in its efforts. The position has given me a front-row seat to MCC’s investments in Armenia. After observing the dedication and professionalism of everyone involved in this effort, I have concluded that it has been one of my most inspiring experiences yet.
The MCC’s total investment in Armenia’s agricultural and water sector is expected to reach $177 million by the program’s completion in September 2011. The goal of the program is the reduction of rural poverty through the rehabilitation of Armenia’s vital irrigation infrastructure, complemented with extensive technical and financial assistance to rural farmers and to the government irrigation entities that support them.
I can see the difference that MCC and MCA-Armenia are making in the lives of people here. During my time in Armenia, I have been witnessed the opening of a tertiary canal, a nursery visit, and the ribbon-cutting for two pumping stations. But the event that touched me most was a small event honoring Hamazasp Gabrielyan, the 1,000th borrower under an activity designed to expand the accessibility of credit for rural Armenians. With this small loan of approximately $8,000, Hamazasp will build a new cooling facility that will allow him to extend his selling season and increase his income. As I listened to his story, I felt a deep sense of pride and gratitude. Thanks to our investment and contribution, thousands of farmers like him will have access to better irrigation and training in advanced farming techniques. This will improve their incomes and their lives.
Another personal highlight was attending a tree-planting ceremony along with 80 Armenian schoolchildren. As part of its environmental policy, MCA-Armenia is required to compensate for any trees cut down during construction. The launch I attended kicked off a campaign in which MCA-Armenia planted 1,500 trees this spring. As I helped plant a tree outside the village hall, and observed the gratitude and enthusiasm of the community members, I couldn’t help being filled with pride and enthusiasm about my work here and the work of MCC to benefit the Armenian people.