A Safehouse in Armenia for People Who Lose Their Social Support Systems


Perhaps the most powerful motivator across all of Armenian society is fear of social ostracism. Here, nearly every individual perceives themselves as vulnerable if they lack the support of the collective.

More and more, I hear stories of young Armenians (usually women) being disowned by their parents, extended families, or society at large for failing to conform to archaic cultural demands. The average young Armenian does not fear that their parents will stone or beat them to death for dressing inappropriately, being attracted to the wrong people, or just choosing the wrong hobbies, passions, or careers to pursue. Instead, it is the threat of social rejection and economic failure that enforces compliance with traditional values.

Unlike some of its more barbarous neighbors, Armenia's cultural crimes are not generally enforced with physical violence. Therefore, it's relatively easy to overcome their enforcement. If the most someone can do is threaten not to support you socially or provide you with food and housing, you only have to figure out how to do two things on your own to break free of their coercion:

  • Make your own friends/family who accept your true identity
  • Make enough money to pay for your own basic lifestyle needs

One of our goals with The Kalavan Retreat Center has been to craft an opportunity for an escape for Armenians and visitors to this country seeking freedom from marginalization for daring to be different than the norm. Here, everyone has the space, peace, and support to transition into a life where they are free to fully be themselves. Short- or long-term guests receive guidance and resources to re-emerge into a new life built upon the principles of authentic self-expression. We offer a safe and supportive living environment for individuals who may have faced challenges assimilating into society. Residents receive assistance and encouragement as they work toward personal growth and independence.

Many people find it difficult to adjust to life on their own without the sense of belonging and social/economic support they've always had. The Kalavan Retreat Center offers a stepping stone between your old life and independent living, helping people build up a healthy social support system and economic self-reliance (i.e., the ability to earn a living and take care of yourself). Residents and guests here can participate in educational workshops to develop life skills, employment skills, personal responsibility, and self-expression. This prepares them for successful reintegration into society on their own terms and in full control of their own destinies.

Do you know someone who has been kicked out of their home because of their personal values or lifestyle preferences? Or someone on the verge of it and terrified of stepping out of line because of the social consequences they may face? Have them reach out to The Kalavan Retreat Center.



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