ARS and AYF support Armenian programs in Syria and Georgia
Published: Tuesday May 22, 2012
In order to provide financial assistance to Armenian schools in Syria, the ARS Central Executive Board announced the formation of the "Fund for Assistance to Syrian-Armenian Schools".
"There is no doubt," declared ARS Central Executive Board Member, Ms. Zepure E. Reisian, "that the unfortunate incidents unraveling in Syria have disrupted the community's normal course of life. The ARS Central Executive Board believes that securing the undisturbed continuity of school life is the best guarantee of maintaining the normalcy of daily existence for Armenian youngsters."
As further explanation of the nature of the Fund, Mrs. Vicky Marashlian, Chairperson of the ARS Central Executive Board, noted that a while back the Society recognized that, as a consequence of the events in Syria, the Armenian Community may suffer social and financial instability. After deliberation, the Central Executive Board concluded that the best approach for the ARS would be to concentrate on helping the Syrian-Armenian schools by allotting funds for "tuitions to needy students", thus alleviating both the financial burden on needy Syrian-Armenian families, and, at the same time, promoting the continuity of the educational mission of the schools.
"The decision of the Central Executive Board to come up with such a Fund is indeed laudable," stated Ms. Anna Der Hagopian, Chairperson of ARS/Syria. "The economic crisis battering the country has inevitably affected the Armenian community as well, and the number of families and scholarship recipients receiving aid from the ARS/Syria social services has doubled over the past year. We are confident that until next September, the ARS family will make every possible effort to assist to the maximum the Syrian-Armenian educational institutions, thus helping the community itself. We have no doubt, also, that Armenian communities worldwide, alongside the global ARS entities, will come to our assistance in other needs as they arise until we finally come out of this crisis," concluded Ms. Der Hagopian.
Donations may be made to the "Fund for Assistance to Syrian-Armenian Schools" through all ARS local chapters and Regional offices, as well as on the ARS, Inc. website (http://www.ars1910.org). All proceeds will be sent to the ARS/Syria Regional Executive for distribution to Syrian/Armenian schools, in order to alleviate the financial burden on the shoulders of the Syrian-Armenian parents.
Javakhk Fund annual gala fundraiser
The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA's (ARS) Javakhk Fund Committee held its eighth annual gala fundraiser on March 18 aboard the yacht Electra "Crystal/Eternity."
The program highlighted the reasons to stay on course in support of ARS youth centers and other beneficial programs, particularly for the Armenian youth in Javakhk.
Following welcoming remarks by promising ARS Javakhk Fund Committee members Kareen Sassounian and Vache Thomassian, Haigoush Kohler then introduced the honored guests, including Anahid Stepanian, representative of the ARF Central Committee, and speakers. Kohler, the Javakhk Fund Committee Chairperson, detailed the committee's focus on two projects, the first of which is an illustrated children's book, Javakhk - A World That Cares, written by Jennifer Salmassian and recently published in English, with an Armenian version soon forthcoming. The second is a newly published bilingual brochure detailing the ARS Javakhk Fund Committee's financially funded programs and projects benefiting healthcare, education, and youth activities in Javakhk.
Dr. Nyree Derderian, ARS Regional Executive Board Chairperson, thanked committee members, representatives of sister organizations, and guests for their contribution towards the success of this fundraising event. She reminded of the dismal condition of the Javakhk Armenians in 2001, when the ARS decided to lend a hand. With the help of dedicated supporters, the ARS was able to establish the youth centers and make a difference.
Anna Mnatsakanian, coordinator of ARS International Programs in Yerevan, Armenia, whose responsibilities have included orphans programs, provided a special perspective regarding the situation in Javakhk. She noted that orphanages serve different purposes during different times, but there had not been any need to have any orphanages, even during the Soviet era in neither Javakhk nor Artsakh. The extended families took charge of any orphans. In 2005, she found out that an orphanage had been established by the Georgian authorities with ethnic Georgian orphans brought in for the purpose of repopulating the area through orphanages, since settlement of non-Armenians in the area had not been very successful, as other ethnicities even buried their dead back in their ethnic enclaves, instead of Javakhk. Mnatsakanian hoped that the supporters understand the significance of their contribution in Javakhk.
The keynote speaker was Elizabeth Chouldjian, ANCA Communications Director in Washington, DC, who had first visited Javakhk in 2003, and upon subsequent visits, the latest of which was last September, had witnessed the changes brought by the ARS Youth Centers, as well as the smoother roads leading to Javakhk funded by U.S. federal foreign assistance to the Georgian government. Chouldjian provided details of the challenges faced by Javakhk Armenians in the educational arena, as well as economic circumstances, which place the unemployed and underemployed at 40 per cent of the population. She described what she and Kenneth Hachikian, the ANCA Chairman, accomplished during their myriad of visits or attempted visits to public and non-governmental organization (NGO) officials in Tbilisi and Javakhk. They understood the disconnect between the situation in Javakhk described by the locals, and the twisted interpretations by officials.