The Growing Success of the Shinuhayr Project

December 20, 2011

Ani Dikranian

Over the past two years, RMF Armenia has been gaining appeal and trust within the eight communities it serves.  For most members of these communities, an episode of illness is a severe financial burden on an entire family.  Medication is either difficult to obtain or often unaffordable when available.  And, that’s for acute illnesses.  Many people diagnosed with chronic yet manageable illnesses, which is generally on the rise in Armenia, forgo treatment, because it is simply too expensive.  For community members facing such circumstances, the RMF project is a godsend. 

Armenians are accustomed to paying for healthcare services either formally or informally, especially paying high prices (relative to their incomes) for medications.  So, when these particular community members are referred to the RMF project by their health care providers in order to receive the necessary medications for free, many are initially skeptical. 

Photo: A Patient receives free medication

However, thanks in large part to the funding that provides a constant and reliable supply of medications that are distributed for free to those in need, RMF is winning people over and gaining the confidence of the communities one patient, or beneficiary, at a time.  The number of beneficiaries served has been consistently increasing, thus showing that RMF is gaining the respect and trust of community members and successfully working towards addressing their healthcare needs. 

While some beneficiaries receive medication to treat a one-time illness, others receive medication monthly to manage their chronic diseases and thus be able to better function in their daily lives.  Some beneficiaries are children who receive their scheduled immunizations for free, while their mothers participate in a health education discussion or an open clinic day.  Those beneficiaries too ill to reach a clinic receive a home visit or are transported to a clinic in the RMF-funded ambulance.

As the number of “satisfied” beneficiaries increases so do word-of-mouth referrals within the communities.  One such referral came early this year. In February, 14-year old Mariam’s parents asked for RMF’s help.  Mariam had developed spinal deformation causing her chronic and severe pain.  Her condition had also begun significantly inhibiting her social interactions, her schoolwork and her emotional and mental well-being as well as that of her family.  With RMF’s assistance, Mariam was evaluated by a specialist and prescribed a lumbar corset to temporarily manage her condition.  

Photo: Miriam and her family

Her parents were told that Mariam’s best course of treatment would involve surgery, which would cost an amount her family would undoubtedly never be able to pay.  However, RMF agreed to take on the financial responsibility of Mariam’s treatment.  Now, several months later, subsequent medical examinations show that Mariam’s spinal curvature has considerably increased and significantly limits her mobility.  While she was fitted for a new lumbar corset, her need for surgery is now ever more immediate.  Therefore, RMF is currently working on finalizing the funding and treatment course for Mariam’s care.

This is just one of RMF Armenia’s success stories made possible by the generous contributions of our supporters.  As we face the financial challenge of meeting the increasing need in these communities, however, we hope to expand our base of support.  To this end, we have launched our annual PLAY TO GIVE holiday season fundraiser.  Play to Give is an online fundraising site that enables our supporters from all over the world to participate and donate to the RMF Armenia project (please visit the “One Village at a Time” event at  Our annual fundraiser started on Thanksgiving Day and will end on New Year’s Eve. 

Last year, we successfully reached our goal of $5,000, which helped provide all RMF Armenia beneficiary families with essential food and necessary supplies for the holidays.  This year, we have challenged ourselves to raise $10,000, and we are confident that, with our donors’ continued support, we will reach this goal and be able to fund our services into 2012!

As we look forward to a successful fundraiser, we also look ahead to the project’s objectives for the coming year.  With the overall goal of increasing community members’ access to comprehensive healthcare services, the project will focus on renovating the roof of Shinuhayr’s primary care clinic.  Considering its staff, equipment and capacity to deliver services, the clinic serves members of all eight communities: Shinuhayr and its surrounding seven villages.  The dilapidated condition of the roof, however, along with its subsequent structural problems, limits the provision of comprehensive care to patients. 


In addition, we aim to put greater emphasis on health education activities that address the rising problem of chronic illnesses, especially diabetes and heart disease.  Finally, we intend to gradually increase the supply and distribution of free medications, such that all in need may be served.In this season of thanksgiving, we express our sincere gratitude to our supporters who help us reach the growing healthcare needs of these communities.  As RMF Armenia continuously strives to do more, we hope that donors continue to share our vision and support this cause!

Country Page: Armenia Initiative Page: Healthcare Project, Shinuhayr