The Berd Bear project is one of the activities implemented by the Berd Women’s Resource Center Foundation (BWRCF), and is intended to provide much needed employment for the women of Berd and the surrounding villages.
In February 2011 in the town of Berd, Armenia, Anahit Badalian, with the help and encouragement of United States Peace Corps volunteer John Hart, founded BWRCF. For their first project, they arranged a showing of the local women’s handicraft group and invited American-born toy-design expert and Consul for Norway and Finland, Sir Timothy Straight, to visit Berd. Tim had recently started an organization, Homeland Handicrafts, and was looking for new Armenian talent and products to develop. Together, they discovered unique handmade teddy bears being crafted by a small group of local women. Upon inquiry, they learned the technique for making these one-of-a-kind bears was brought to the town by a German nun, Sister Hanna, who had preserved the art through generations.
Fast forward to today, where the reaction to both the quality of the bears and the story behind them is positive across borders and ethnicities; prompting the expansion of the operation. The original handicraft group has expanded from a handful of women to almost thirty full-time specialized knitters, crocheters and sewers, all bringing their talent and creativity to Berd Bears.
By supporting Berd Bears, you are supporting a larger cause: allowing a hardworking woman to receive a fair wage for her traditional craft and thus providing for her family in an otherwise abandoned economy.