Archive for July, 2010

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[FAR Schools]: Ounjian School Continues to Grow.

July 31, 2010

Although construction has already been in progress for five months, an opening ceremony dedicated to the launch of the Ounjian School’s new sub building was held on July 8 in honor of its chief supporter Dr. Hovhannes (John) Ounjian’s the arrival at the project site.

The former N21 secondary school, which was completely ruined after the 1988 earthquake, was reconstructed due to the generous benevolence of Dr. Ounjian, who is from New York and also an honorable citizen of Gyumri. The school is named after the benefactor’s parents Armenak and Yeghisabet Ounjian.

Dr. Ounjian also undertook the expenses of the reinforcement and renovation of the school’s sub building, which will contain new classrooms, a library, and language room.

The Reverend Father Tateos Abdalian, a representative of the Armenian Apostolic Church in America (Eastern Diocese), opened the ceremony with a hearty blessing. During his welcome speech, FAR Country Director Bagrat Sargsyan recognized Dr. Ounjian’s mission in Gyumri, which enables 450 children study in favorable conditions. Since 2002, nearly 150 school graduates have also obtained higher education thanks to the support of Ounjian Scholarship Fund.

Dr. Ounjian, Shirak Regional Governor Ashot Giziryan, and several program executives carved their signatures in the wall of one of the rooms to commemorate the ceremony.

Several guests attended, including Armenia’s Deputy Regional Governor, FAR Programs Director Arto Vorperian, who was visiting from the USA, FAR Shirak Department Director Marina Bazayeva, ACYOA APS group members, students, teachers, and journalists.

Shortly after the schoolchildren’s acknowledgement speeches, Dr. Ounjian promised to support the school so that it will one day be rated as the best educational institution in the Republic of Armenia.

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Credit: FAR Staff

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[Armenian Landscapes]

July 30, 2010

Summer in Yerevan

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Credit: Felix Arustamyan

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[Dispatches from Armenia]: Nor Hatjn’s Kitchen.

July 30, 2010

Just outside Yerevan, lies the town of Nor Hatjn. The other day, three of us – Arto, FAR’s program director, Rafik, director of FAR’s soup kitchens, and myself – paid a visit. During the YPT trip we visited the Gyumri soup kitchen, so I sort of had an idea. Financed by the Bay Area Friends of Armenia and carried out by FAR, five different kitchens provide a full lunch to recipients every day in different parts of the country. Most of FAR’s kitchens, like Gyumri’s for instance, serve the elderly – former doctors, professors, teachers, and scientists whose pensions barely cover basic living costs. Nor Hatjn’s kitchen is a little different. The recipients are families, primarily refugees from the war with Azerbajian who have settled and raised their children here.
 
This is a town where there is literally no job opportunity – the two factories, one diamond cutting, the other for car parts, closed down awhile ago and there’s not much else going on in terms of commerce. Most residents live in subsidized housing and 200 people come to the soup kitchen for their meat, lavash, and fruit every single day.

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Credit: FAR Staff

 
Sure enough, we were surrounded by what seemed like dozens of exuberant children once we walked into the room. They weren’t shy about practicing their English as we circled around the room and bantered back and forth. My camera was a hit — as I knew it would be — and I handed it over to them so they could snap group shots and family pictures.
 
The terrazzo floor and old chandeliers hanging were the only signs of this building’s former glory. Paint peels off the walls; water drips constantly from the pipes in the kitchen. And every single day the water is shut off. The owner of the building is bankrupt, doesn’t pay the water bill, so every single day the managers must fight to have it turned back on so they can prepare this necessary meal. It’s a constant, unsustainable battle.

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Credit: FAR Staff

 
The option would be to buy the building and renovate it, which would cost about $100,000. BAFA is working on fundraising for these efforts now, but of course there’s a long way to go. The other option would be to leave this building and re-open the kitchen somewhere else. But what would the people of Nor Hatjn do? Traveling to another town altogether just to eat would be a hardship, especially in winter. Plus, many depend on leftovers to feed them for the rest of the day. This is a place where their families gather, where their children play, and where they aren’t afraid to complain when the menu changes. They’d most likely lose their primary source of sustenance, and as it seemed to me, their center of community. I truly hope that does not happen. Despite the obstacles, FAR staff still makes this soup kitchen possible, and there’s no doubt that they will continue, but here’s hoping for things to be even better someday.

Erin –

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Credit: FAR Staff

 

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[CME]: Better Qualified Doctors for Armenia.

July 30, 2010

Four of Armenia’s doctors are now even more capable and better equipped to serve their home regions after completing FAR’s Continuing Medical Education Program. All of these doctors, normally based in Armenia’s provincial regions, spent the month of July training with leading specialists in Yerevan. Graduation was held today at FAR’s office.

Dr. Hambartsum Simonyan, FAR’s health programs coordinator, thanked each of this month’s fellows for their enthusiasm, responsible attitudes, and their effectiveness.

Each of the fellows focused on different specialties — anesthesiology, pathology, neonatology, and infectious disease — and all said their practice will now benefit greatly from this new experience.

CME Doctors Graduate

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Credit: FAR Staff

CME gives doctors from Armenia’s rural areas the opportunity to enhance their modern medical knowledge and practice. These doctors have the opportunity to learn about innovative approaches and methodologies from top healthcare providers in Yerevan free of cost.

Dr. Alvard Hayrapetyan worked in the anesthesia and intensive care department of Kanaker-Zeytun Medical Center, where she focused on spinal anesthesiology.  She’ll return home in Vanadzor knowing how to better monitor patients during surgery and also pass these techniques onto her staff members. Dr. Armine Harutyunyan participated in CME for the second time. A pathologist, she focused on the diagnosis of cancer in women. Dr. Stepan Melronyan, an infectious disease specialist, focused on improved diagnosis of certain infectious diseases like tuberculosis at Abovyan Hospital. And Dr. Hasmik Muradyan focused on becoming better acquainted with new technologies and equipment for neonatal care. 

CME Doctors Graduate

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Credit: FAR Staff

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[FAR Soup Kitchens]: Nor Hatjn English Students Make Final Presentations.

July 30, 2010

After completing eight months of English classes, students from Nor Hatjn gathered at the English Department of the American University of Armenia to make their final presentations and demonstrate their progress. Classes were sponsored by the Bay Area Friends of Armenia (BAFA).

Students presented their power point entitled Famous People, which they had prepared with the help of their computer teacher. Afterwards some of the students presented their individual portfolios and they closed with the song Imagine . This joint effort of the students and their teacher Gayane Manukyan proved to be a successful outcome of hard work.

American University’s Associate Dean Dr. Farhady, Experimental English Classes Program Director Rubina Gasparyan, instructors Melissa Brown and Lilana Edilyan, FAR Soup Kitchens Coordinator Rafik Martirosyan, along with several parents, teachers, and students from Nor Hatjn attended.

Nor Hatjn English students receive certificates 

Nor Hajn English Classes

Credit: FAR Staff

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[Armenian Life]: Art Exhibition this Weekend in Yerevan.

July 30, 2010

The Women’s Resource Center in Yerevan will hold its Summer 2010 Art Intervention, “Queering Translation” from July 31 – August 1. A diverse school of Armenian artists will be presenting their work, which will focus on translation as a cultural practice that both unites and divides.

WRCA is working in the area of women’s human rights, reproductive and sexual rights, sexual violence and women’s role in the conflict resolution and peace building in the South Caucasus. Please continue here.

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Credit: Women’s Resource Center

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[Armenian Landscapes]

July 29, 2010

St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, Yerevan

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Credit: Levon Lachikyan