Culturas Corner highlights individuals who make their community a better place through their work, business, volunteering or activism. Today we learn more about Kooyrigs from founder Karine Eurdekian. The online platform serves as a digital safe space to promote education and provide resources to Armenian women around the world.
Thanks for taking the time to tell us about Kooyrigs! Can you tell us about how things got started?
Kooyrigs started out of a personal need for community support. I realized taboos within Armenian society has a damaging effect not only on my own mental health, but my Armenian family and friends as well. The challenges Armenian women face in society are hardly recognized. In the summer of 2017, I was a legal intern at Women’s Resource Center in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital. It was here that I witnessed the injustices that are perpetuated against Armenian women, even within their own community. Each Armenian’s story is different, and Kooyrigs acknowledges this struggle as we provide resources for support.
Can you explain the importance of social media to the Kooyrigs community?
Social media is critical because it is accessible, for the most part. Since Armenians are part of such a wide diaspora, it is rare that we are in the same room. Kooyrigs is the virtual room that brings us all together. Not only is it critical to share feminist ideology and education, but it also allows for relationships to blossom, regardless of location. It has built bridges between various existing Armenian communities and individuals, while establishing a safe space for expression and education.
Can you tell us about Kooyrigs’ involvement in supporting Artsakh?
Kooyrigs started contributing to the Artsakh aid effort a couple days after the war began on September 27. We prioritize sustainable fundraising. We source critical aid from rural Armenian businesses. Our on-ground team hand delivers aid to Artsakh twice a week to ensure transparency for our donors and to confirm that aid reaches the front lines. We upload photos and videos so donors can watch their dollars reach the front lines. We have been providing war time medication to hospitals and the front lines, meal kits for those in bunkers, clothing & food for displaced people, ingredients for local bakeries in Artsakh, and much more.
What philosophical and concrete goals do you have for Kooyrigs?
Our aim is to create an inclusive space for all Armenians that promotes our culture, while providing community support in all aspects: emotionally, physically, etc. Be it providing aid during a war or providing a shoulder to lean on or networking career support— Kooyrigs is a platform that prioritizes community and responds to the direct needs of Armenian people in Armenia, Artsakh, and around the globe. We are currently renovating our office space, which is a big milestone! We are also currently employing 5 people in Armenia fair wages as Kooyrigs team members. In the future, we hope to launch a community center that acts as a real-life safe place in Armenia. We also plan on launching various chapters of Kooyrigs around the globe to provide opportunities for IRL (real life) connection. Lastly, we hope to continue taking on critical fundraising projects.
What is your favorite cultural memory?
My favorite things always involve food, dance, and stories. Sharing stories with my grandparents about their grandparents over coffee and choreg. Making a toast to our soldiers as I share a meal with them in Artsakh. Dancing in the mountains of Dilijan with friends. Learning how to pinch Mante (Armenian dumplings) perfectly with my grandma.
Answers have been edited for length and clarity. Know someone who should be featured on Culturas Corner? Nominate them here.