Archive for October, 2009


[Beneficiary Portraits]

October 30, 2009

Friends at Summer Camp in Hrazdan


Credit: Celine Kaladjian


[FAR New York]: ACYOA and FAR Partner for 2010 Armenia Service Program

October 30, 2009

On Tuesday, October 27, members of the Fund for Armenian Relief staff met with Diocesan Vicar Very Rev. Fr. Haigazoun Najarian and ACYOA Executive Secretary Nancy Basmajian to formalize plans for the 2010 ACYOA Armenia Service Program (ASP), which will now focus volunteering efforts on FAR projects in Gyumri.

Since 1995, the ASP, which is organized by the ACYOA Central Council, has included a service component, allowing participants to volunteer at children’s summer camps in Yeghegnadzor and Vanadzor, Armenia. Recently, the ACYOA Central Council decided to offer assistance to FAR programs in Gyumri.

“We wanted to go in a different direction with our service next summer and, at the Primate’s suggestion, we turned to FAR,” said Nancy Basmajian. “They are doing extraordinary work in Armenia. We’re very pleased with the partnership and the possibilities.”

After spending a few days in Yerevan, the ASP group will travel to Gyumri, where they will work at FAR’s Ounjian School, which is undergoing renovations, and the FAR Soup Kitchen, which serves the city’s senior citizens. After a week in Gyumri, the group will travel to Vanadzor and Sevan before returning to Yerevan for the last leg of their journey.

The ASP is scheduled for June 29 to July 20, 2010. Additional details will be available next month. For information, contact Nancy Basmajian at

Arto Vorperian, FAR Projects Director;
Nancy Basmajian,  ACYOA Executive Secretary;
Very Rev. Fr. Haigazoun Najarian,  Diocesan Vicar;
Bagrat Sargsyan,  FAR’s Country Director;
Karen Sargsyan, FAR/USAID Project Chief of Party;
and Daniele Faye Sourian Sahr, FAR Project Coordinator


Credit: FAR Staff


View from an Armenian Window

October 29, 2009

Gavar, Lake Sevan


Credit: Celine Kaladjian


[FAR New York]: FAR Board Member Michael Haratounian Visits Armenia

October 28, 2009

This September, FAR’s Armenia office was proud to welcome FAR Board member Michael Haratounian, who visited Armenia with his wife Mrs. Mary Haratounian.

Michael and Mary Haratounian
With Gulamerian Students

With Gulamerian students

Credit: FAR Staff

During their visit, the Haratounians were entertained at the Armenian Ministry of Social and Labor Issues as well as the Ministry of Education and Science.  On behalf FAR, the Haratounians accepted the honors awarded to the national benefactor Harold Gulamerian. Later in their visit, Mr. and Mrs. Haratounian visited the Nubarashen Special School to admire the playroom and hallway, as well as the electricity and hot water supply systems, all renovated thanks to the Haratounian’s financial contributions to FAR.

Michael and Mary Haratounian
with Armen Ashotian, RA Minister of Education

Mr. & Mrs. Haratounians with Minister of Education Armen Ashotian

Credit: FAR Staff

The Haratounians were extremely impressed during their visit to GTech in Gyumri, and they admired the modern condition of the educational center.   Last but not least, the couple had an unforgettable visit with the Gulamerian Scholarship Program beneficiaries at Vanadzor Orphanage. A special concert had been organized for the guests, and the children presented them with a handicraft picture created from of silk thread.

Michael and Mary Haratounian at GTech

Mr. & Mrs. Haratounians at GITC

Credit: FAR Staff


[Listening to Armenia]: Happy Birthday, Yerevan!

October 27, 2009

By Daniele Faye Sourian Sahr

Yerevan, with towering Ararat watching over it, turns 2791 years old this year. On October 11th, this ancient city burst forth in a birthday celebration full of music, dance, parades, fireworks, light shows, and songs of Yerevan – new and old. People spilled out onto the streets with festive gatherings and carried out morning-til-night jubilations.

Morning View of Yerevan City Center from the Cascade


Credit: Paul Sookiasian

Erebuni, as it was first named, was born to this land in 782, BC. The Urartians, ancestors to today’s Armenian people, under the rule of King Argishti founded the city as a strategic fortress town, strengthening their power in the Araratian plains as they moved their empire eastward.  2791 years later, Yerevan officials closed the city center of cars while parade participants gathered on this king’s street, Argishti, in front of the Yerevan Municipality and History buildings. With a rush of red, blue and orange, citizens waving flags flooded the main avenues as they sang and danced throughout a city covered with banners, succinctly reading, “Sirum em Quez Erevan” (“I love you, Yerevan”). From ancient times to modern, not a moment has been left unloved, uncared for, or unsung.

We wish you at least another 2791 more, Yerevan!

Performance stages set up around the city encouraged everyone to enjoy music and dance. Here is a video of folk-dressed performers and citizenry alike joining in the day’s fun.


[GTech]: Generous Donation To GTech

October 26, 2009

GTech’s group of friends and supports is continuously growing, as more members of the Diaspora become aware of FAR’s unique technology education program. This month, FAR was blessed to have the support of a new donor, Mrs. Shahaspyur Baghdoyan-Baran of Boston, Massachusetts.

Mrs. Baghdoyan-Baran visited Armenia with a kind mission; she had decided to make a donation to GTech in memory of her husband John Shukri Baran.  Mr. Baran was born in Syria and spent his entire career, both in Syria and later in America, working as a teacher educating generations of youth.  Regarding GTech, Mrs. Baghdoyan-Baran mentioned, “Initially, I intended to support one of the orphanages of Armenia.  However, I then decided to contribute to an educational institution that educates a generation and equips the youth with new knowledge.”

Mrs. Shahaspyur Baran

Mrs. Shahaspyur Baran

Credit: FAR Staff

One of the computer classrooms in GTech henceforth will be named after the devoted Armenian teacher John Shukri Baran, in order to symbolize the benevolence of the Baran family. A dedication ceremony was held on September 20th. Mr. Baran’s wife and sister traveled from Boston to Gyumri to attend the event, and Mr. Baran also had friends from Dubai and Yerevan in attendance.

FAR Press Secretary Levon Lachikyan commemorated the event by mentioning the importance of supporting Gyumri and the future of its youth. In their speeches, leaders of the GTech staff stressed the importance of GTech in shaping Armenia’s future as a scientific and educational hub.  FAR is delighted to be building GTech’s community of supporters!

Opening of the John Shukri Baran’s Auditorium

Opening of John Shukri Baran's auditorium

Credit: FAR Staff


[Beneficiary Potraits]: – Gor Muradyans

October 23, 2009

As a nation in transition, many Armenians still feel the effects of the 1988 earthquake.   FAR was happy to come to the aid of one particular child, Gor Muradyans.  Though Gor was not yet born, his story begins when his father’s first wife was killed during the earthquake.  Gor’s father, Mr. Muradyans, was left to care for his two daughters, the older one of whom was called Tatevik.  Tatevik grew up helping her father to take care of her little sister Kristine.

Tatevik and Gor At Their Home

Gor& Tatevik 1

Credit: FAR Staff

A few years passed, and in 1990 Mr. Muradyans remarried, and he and his wife had two children, Armine and Gor.  Things were looking bright for the Muradyans family until fortune changed again and the family’s father passed away from a severe disease when Armine was 9 years old and was Gor only 1 year old.  But that was not the last stroke of fate. The children lost their other caretaker, the mother of the two youngest children, when she passed away a year later from a fatal disease. The three younger children were left under the guardianship of 19-year-old Tatevik.

Tatevik has devoted her entire life to raising her 3 siblings who simply adore her. Despite the tragedies, the children’s eyes shine.  They survive due to the love that they have towards each other.  Armine and Kristine eventually got married, and now Tatevik cares for Gor, her youngest sibling.  Gor had been on the CASP waiting list, and in October of 2009, he was selected for the program, along with 27 other new applicants.

Tatevik expresses her thanks to the benefactor sponsoring Gor. Thanks to FAR and CASP, Tatevik and Gor now know that life consists not only of sorrows and losses but also of joy and gains.  Through donor support, FAR hopes to help as many children as possible.

Tatevik and Gor: Kitchen Chores

Gor& Tatevik 2

Credit: FAR Staff


[Khandjian Scholarship Program]: Successful Distribution of 2009 Scholarships

October 22, 2009

FAR’s Shirak department recently conducted the Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP) and Khandjian Program fall distribution for 60 beneficiary children. CASP has been providing financial support to children of the Shirak province since 1993, and the Khandjian family assumed a portion of the sponsorship this year.

In 2003 two young men, Sebastien Khandjian and Patrick Sarkissian, traveled to Gyumri together and have supported the city’s people ever since. Patrick is one of the founders of the Gyumri Information Technology Center (GTech). When Patrick and Sebastien arrived in Gyumri, the energetic and future-oriented young men broke the routine of Gyumri, infusing its atmosphere with contemporary ideas and technologies.

Sebastien Khandjian initiated a new program similar to CASP.  Sebastien sponsored three orphans as well as provided money for an orphanage summer camp in 2008.  The Khandjian family’s generosity continued when Sebastien’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Berge Khandjian, decided to sponsor four additional orphans. Currently, seven children receive a Khandjian Program stipend.

FAR is elated and thankful to have the support of such bright young people.  It is through donors like Sebastien and Patrick that FARs programs will grow, and the children of Armenia will face a brighter future, therefore strengthening the nation.

Recipients of  the 2009 Khandjian Scolarship Program

Khanjian kids

Credit: FAR Staff


[Beneficiary Potraits]: The Karapetyan’s

October 21, 2009

Due to the difficult socio-economic situation in Armenia, many families leave for Russia during the summer in search of seasonal employment. The Karapetyan’s felt that this year, they had no other choice than to follow this path to keep their family together.

The couple’s grandmother usually watched the three children while the Karapetyan’s went to Russia seeking work. However, the grandmother had become too old and found herself unable to properly care for the children. She decided to call FAR’s Homeless Children Center. Today, the children are there spending the summer with other youngsters, and have just returned from summer camp in Hrazdan.


[FAR Soup Kitchens]: Beneficiary Stories – Two Fugitives at FAR’s Nor Natch Soup Kitchen

October 19, 2009

About a year ago, the staff from the Nor Natch Soup Kitchen became extremely worried about the sudden disappearance of two of their regulars. When Nunik and Volodya suddenly reappeared one week later, they admitted they had gotten married.

After seeing each other for several years at the Soup Kitchen, their casual talking grew into affection and eventually love!  Today, when asked questions about their union, they still answer with the shy smiles typical of a young newlywed couple.  “Because we both have grown-up children from our previous unions, we still live separately”, Nunik confides, “But we’re happy”.