Battered women find refuge at “Lighthouse” shelter
Published: Monday July 02, 2012
Ptghounk, Armenia - Paros "Lighthouse" Charitable Foundation opened its doors in July 2011. This center is the only shelter for abused women in Armenia that welcomes both a mother and her children.
Myradoon is the final ray of hope for desperate victims of domestic violence. The women who come to Myradoon have been left out in the streets with nowhere to go. With their children in tow, they have reached a critical turning point in their lives. Their choices are very grim, either they must put their children in an orphanage or even worse sell them to criminals who will traffic them in different countries.
If they are pregnant, they are ready to abort at any stage of pregnancy at great risk to their own lives. The goal of Myradoon is to protect motherhood and give innocent children a better life. Myradoon serves pregnant and parenting young women in the safe and healthy environment of a 13,000 sq. ft. shelter/women's center in the village of Ptghunk, located halfway between Armenia's Zvartnots International Airport and Echmiadzin.
For women in immediate danger, the Foundation has an emergency hotline number, "20-80", which can be called from anywhere in Armenia, including every mayor's office, free of charge.
Co-Founder Seta Ghazarian explained, "Each woman arrives at Myradoon suffering from different circumstances and personal tragedies. For example, we have one resident named Knar who is from the Armavir region. Knar has a five-year-old son, named Mushegh, as well as a baby who was only five days old when they entered the shelter.
"The neighbors called us on our hotline because her father had thrown her out of the house when she was discharged from the hospital with her second child. Her own mother died when she was two years old. Her stepmother and father made their money by selling her into prostitution in the village. When Knar got pregnant, the stepmother and father wanted her to abort, but she refused. While she doesn't know who the baby's father is, Knar loves her children unconditionally.
"When she arrived at our Myradoon, she was covered with dirt and blood. She and the children were hungry, eating only the handouts that they received living in the streets. Today, Knar is a wonderful mother, cleaner than any of the girls, and very grateful. We christened her and the two children, and now she actively participates in all our Bible studies and praises God for the new life He has given her."
Myradoon provides on-site dental, medical, and OB/GYN services as well as psychological counseling. Daily classes are offered to help the young women acquire important skills in computer, sewing, cooking and manicure/pedicure. The purpose of these classes is to prepare them to enter the work force, support their families, and live life to the fullest. Ghazarian stated,
"We provide all these services while teaching these young mothers the Word of God and how to pray as Christians. We baptize them and their children so that they become part of our Lord's flock."
The residents of Myradoon are allowed to stay at the shelter as long as necessary for up to two years. While living in Myradoon, older children are sent to the local kindergarten and school, which has been funded by Paros "Lighthouse" Charitable Foundation. At the same time, the staff of Myradoon works diligently to try to bring the family back together, mending relationships and restoring family life if at all possible. The Foundation is proud of its 80% success rate in reuniting families.
$25000 collected at SoCal fundraiser
More than 200 supporters of Paros "Lighthouse" Charitable Foundation USA raised an impressive $25000 at a fundraising event on March 11 at Zov's Bistro in Tustin, California. The event benefited Paros "Lighthouse" Foundation's vital work assisting victims of domestic violence and other critical outreach services in Armenia. Guests enjoyed delicious appetizers and great wines, all underwritten by Zov's Bistro. Highlighting the event was renowned attorney Mark Geragos, Esq. as the guest speaker.
The event was a call to action for Armenian communities worldwide to take a stand against domestic abuse. Speaking to the guests, Geragos said that in the past 20 years he has observed an increase in spousal abuse cases in California courts among Armenian families. He stated that violence against women anywhere is unacceptable. He encouraged everyone to donate to Paros "Lighthouse" Foundation to help women in crisis in Armenia.
Co- Founder Seta Ghazarian stated, "We serve pregnant and parenting young women in the secure environment of our 13,000 sq. ft. shelter/women's center in the village of Bdghounk. Our core services focus on keeping both mother and child healthy and safe, while teaching the mothers important skills like child development, parenting, and health and nutrition. For women in immediate danger, we have an emergency hotline number, "20-80", which can be called from anywhere in Armenia free of charge. Our goal is to help young Armenian women realize their full potential, despite the danger and adversity they face."
In addition to aiding victims of domestic violence, Paros "Lighthouse" Foundation also offers desperately needed services to the local community including vocational training, psychological counseling and therapy, sewing and cooking classes, women's health services with an on-site OBGYN physician, dental health services with an on-site dentist, feeding the poor and elderly, supporting a local kindergarten, weekly Bible study, and donations of essential goods to the needy in Armenia and Artsakh.
Zuhrab and Seta Ghazarian have been engaged in charity work and community outreach for underprivileged and underserved in Armenia since 2000. The idea of "Paros" (meaning "lighthouse" in Armenian) was established by friends and supporters of the Ghazarian family, and grew out of their concern for Armenian women and children as well as the integrity of the Armenian family. Paros "Lighthouse" Armenian Charitable Foundation USA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, public benefit corporation registered in the State of California and Republic of Armenia.
For more information about Paros "Lighthouse" Charitable Foundation USA and to donate, please visit www.parosfoundation.org. Contributions can also be mailed to: P.O. Box 3595, Seal Beach, CA 90740.