Author Archive


[CASP]: Impressions of CASP’s Summer Camp.

August 5, 2010

By Marina Bazayeva

Summer Camp: a homework-free zone, filled with fun, fresh air and friendship. For the kids supported by the Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program, it is also a work-free zone. At home many of them constantly help their mothers or grandparents do housework or care for their younger siblings. In addition, the majority of the nearly 20 kids and teenagers who are enrolled in the 20-day FAR “Siranush” Summer Camp, located near the village of Hermon in Vaiots Dzor Province (population: 53,000), have never been outside their own province.

They’ve never had a chance to socialize with their peers from other regions or compatriots from other countries. So, this newfound association will provide the local kids with a broader understanding of another world, culture and mentality. It will provide them with a sense of unity with other Armenians from all over the world as well as show them that there are an abundant variety of traditions and customs in their country.

All of this will enrich their development and build their foundation for their future. And the abundance of care, love, and lack of social problems ensure a pleasant and enjoyable stay.

Every summer, underprivileged children who are either orphaned or who come from single-parent homes are able to attend camp through the help of the Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program.

Children depart for summer camp



Credit: FAR Staff


[Octet School]: Octet Students Say “Thank You”

June 9, 2010

Students from the Gyumri “Octet” School of Music recently presented a photo album called Octet is Grateful to Rock to British Musician Ian Gillan as a thank you for the work he has done to improve their school. All proceeds from this concert were donated to the Octet school.

They presented the album to Gillan on the morning of his Deep Purple benefit concert, which was held in Armenia in May.


Credit: Students of the Octet Music School


[Octet Music School]: The Rebirth of Gyumri’s Art Scene.

June 4, 2010

More than 1,000 participants from nations like Russia, Belarus, France, Egypt, Iran, and China, gathered in Gyumri last month for the Veratsnund International Music Contest. Commemorating the 95th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, the Veratsnund – or Renaissance — contest also marked the revival of Gyumri’s vibrant art scene, which has grown significantly in recent years.

The Gyumri “Octet” School of Music was one shining example of this growing community of artists. Sixth grade violin student Ani Khachatryan won an award for the performance of her signature “music rhapsody.” Ani is just one of the many students under the tutelage of teacher Anahit Grigoryan, whose kids are some of the most talented young musicians in the area.

Ani Khachatryan


Ani Khachatryan with Octet students


Credit: Marina Bazayea


[Armenian Life]: May 9th.

May 18, 2010

May 9 is celebrated in the former Soviet Republics, now independent states, as a Victory day.

65 years ago, on that day Nazi Germany surrendered to the Soviet Army. Scoreless thousands of Armenians too paid an ultimate price for the fall of fascism in Europe. This was a unique time, though short lived, of US and the Soviets as allies against the barbarian Hitler regime.

In the wake of the 65th anniversary of that glorious union and victory, FAR beneficiaries in Armenia came together to thank all those brave sons of many nations who brought hope to future generations.

Armen Galstyan, a former FAR / CASP beneficiary,
drafted into the Armenian Army at the age of 18.
Young Armenian man have to serve for two years.

Armen Galstyan.JPG

Credit: FAR Staff


[CSFC]: Children’s Support Foundation Center Celebrates 10 years.

May 5, 2010

FAR has always been a leader in child protection in Armenia. For 10 years, its Children’s Support Foundation Center has been its exceptional leader in helping neglected and abandoned children achieve a better life. The recent forum Ten Years Standing for Protection of Children was a testament to CSFC’s work.

Politicians, NGO representatives from a cross segment of child protection agencies and organizations, community leaders, and FAR staff filled the Tigram Mets Hall at the Yerevan Marriott for the event. Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly Arevik Petrosyan and Labor and Social Affairs Minister Mkhitar Mnatsakanyan were just some of the attendees who gathered to hear FAR Country Director Bagrat Sargsyan, CSFC Director Mira Antonyan, and others speak to the center’s achievements. All speakers emphasized the center’s invaluable role in not only helping Armenia’s youth, but for actually developing a new culture of child protection in Armenia, a child-centered culture.

CSFC has touched the lives of nearly 6,000 children and their family members since it opened by counseling and healing them, connecting them with vital services, shelter, and other types of support. The center has partnered with government and local police, and bolstered Armenia’s foster care system through its work with loving families who offer a stable environment for many of the center’s children.

This is the essence of FAR’s mission in Armenia — changing lives, one at a time. FAR’s work sends a message to communities and the children themselves: your life is a treasure to our country and you are not alone. FAR helps these disadvantaged kids who have nearly lost hope for a future to regain hope and belief. They are Armenia’s future scientists, doctors, political leaders, and productive citizens ,and CSFC will stand with them for the next 10 years and beyond.

Representatives and FAR staff filled the Tigram Mets Hall


Credit: FAR Staff


[FAR Schools]: Armenian Church and the WGCC donates gifts to Gyumri’s disadvantaged.

April 14, 2010

FAR, the Armenian Apostolic Church, and the Women’s Guild Central Council (WGCC) of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) recently traveled to the Shirak province to distribute much needed school supplies and toiletries to more than 500 children. The gifts were given out just in time for the Armenia’s April 7 holiday celebrating Beauty and Motherhood.

Most of the childrens’ mothers were present at the Ounjian and Catholicos Vazgen A schools for the distribution. With so many of the parents in this region out of work, such gifts will benefit entire families of these children, and the women graciously accepted the help.

Children at the Distribution


Credit: FAR Staff


[Opinions]: Gray Eyeglasses Show Gray Signs of Soul Disaster.

April 7, 2010

“Every thinking man — and by man I also mean woman —
MUST be occupied only by this interest: to develop a soul.”

G.I. Gurdjieff (as quoted in Solita Solano’s diaries)

Gyumri FAR Employee Marina Bazayeva’s Response to Tyler Guthrie’s WaPo article about Armenia.

It may sound absurd that a nation born in the III millennium B.C., the one that was the first to proclaim Christianity as its state religion, one that has a very rich language and alphabet dating back to 405 A.D., one that printed its first book in 1512, has no words to distinguish between flesh and body.

If one knows Armenia and sees its palette, however, they would understand what is meant by this. An Armenian has a soul irrespective of his body’s shape and color. An Armenian puts his soul into everything he produces and perceives: monasteries, babies. An Armenian is bred as a part of a culture and mentality that is transferred from one generation to the other. An Armenian constructs buildings as a piece of architecture. From multi-colored natural stones that do not need artificial paint, an Armenian restores the Mother Armenia monument and pays attention to it in his thoughts, as it is a symbol of durability and respect to one’s motherland. Unlike the Statue of Liberty, which was a gift from France, Armenians constructed and reconstructed Mother Armenia themselves to keep the torch of hope, lost after the earthquake, alive.

Gyumri in 2009

Square 1.JPG

Armenians are the ones that gave their lives to preserve their homeland. They did not escape to distant lands to save themselves. Armenians have deep and ancient roots as people, but lacked a state of their own from 1375 to 1918. They learned how to survive and flourish within multi-ethnic states, such as the Ottoman, Persian, Russian, and Soviet empires. Armenians managed to preserve Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, which was founded in 753 B.C. — 29 years before the foundation of Rome.

For an American like Mr. Guthrie it may be hard to comprehend how a person can ignore waste management or extinguish a cigarette into water because throughout his entire life he saw perfect roads, waste and litter designated containers, and everything in a normal shape that was taken for granted. He personally did not do anything for that. He was just born in a warm and comfortable maternity building, was taken to his comfortable house with running cold and hot water, then to a modern school, and later to a contemporary university, and an air-conditioned office.

Gyumri in 2009

Mother Gyumri.jpg

When he enters a “Bath and Body Works” or a “Body Shop” and cannot decide which shower gel to choose — with a strawberry or raspberry flavor — it may never occurs to him that someone like him, born in Gyumri who has the same body, has no bath to sponge himself with the lotions. It never occurs to him that an Armenian who has two university degrees and is a son of physicians, has to go outside to carry in a bucket of water, heat it on a wood stove, pour it on his body to bath, and dry his hair on the diesel heater. An Armenian is so occupied with solving routine problems that he forgets to extinguish his cigarette in the litter. Allow him to take his time, as only 20 years passed after the natural ordeal and independence, whereas 200 years of American prosperity make Americans to forget what a world with a shortage of bread or electricity means.

Gyumri in 2009


The strength and durability allowed Armenians to produce brandy and beer that are not worse than Cognac or Heineken.

Let us not wear glasses when we visit other places and see the soul, the flesh and not just the body, which can be worn or outdated. It is better to have an old-fashioned coat than an ugly soul.

Links to Gyumri:


[Armenian Life]: The outstanding women from Gyumri.

March 15, 2010

By Marina Bazayeva

“Eve” stands for “living one” or “source of life.”

Gyumri dialect is the only one in the Armenian language that has the word man in the word “woman,” just like in the English language.

The Armenian language is called “maireni” that derived from the word “mother”.

A meeting with the Shirak diocese Primate Archbishop Mikayel Ajapahyan was held to honor outstanding women of the Shirak province. The Primate mentioned the big role and essential contribution of Shirak’s women to the social, economic and political life of Gyumri and the Shirak province. Armenia was one of the first countries that, in the first decade of the XIX century, gave women the right to vote. During the Soviet era most of the high positions in this province were held by women. For many years the leader of the leading party was Ms. Donara Harutyunyan, whose contribution to the city development is hard to overstate. Today’s Shirak’s Governor is a lady, a fact that is frequently mentioned in Strasbourg at the European Union. Ms. Lida Nanyan is officially acknowledged as one of the best governors in Armenia. The deputy governor, Ms. Kirakosyan is a lady, too. Two villages in the Shirak region have elected female village supervisors.

The Primate also acknowledged the key role of women in child education and their importance to the family. He praised their devotion and dedication to the church, today and in history, noting that only the women stayed with Jesus Christ after he was crucified.

Primate Archbishop Mikayel Ajapahyan
honors women of the Shirak province

Srbazan 2.jpg

Credit: FAR Staff


[Octet Music School]: Gyumri School started its “Musical Spring” tour.

March 11, 2010

By Marina Bazayeva

Flowers are mainly associated with women, beauty, happiness, appreciation and love. Gyumri Octet School of Music started its musical spring tour devoted to the project Armenia Grateful to Rock.

The Octet orchestra visited one of the oldest educational establishments of Gyumri, a 75 year old Pedagogical Institute. The concert was dedicated to March 8, the International Women’s day. The majority of the teachers both in Octet and Pedagogical Institute are women and such bouquet was a quintessence of charm, intellect and devotion. The concert comprised music pieces performed by the school kids and poetry recitals by the Institute students.

The University staff was amazed by the wonderful performance level of the kids and high professionalism of the teachers. The school kids were proud to perform in front of such a big audience outside their school. The Institute issued a thank-you letter to Octet and wished the best to the school.

The school principle also thanked the Institute and announced about two benevolent concerts that a rock legend Ian Gillan will perform on March 26 and 27 to provide the profit for the school construction and invited the Institute students and professors to visit the concerts. He mentioned VivaCell and MediaMax that recently presented musical instruments to the school. He also thanked FAR for channeling the information concerning the school. The concert ended with an orchestra performance of “Mesmerized Flowers” and long encore!

There is a series of similar concerts to other Schools of Music around Armenia this spring.

Young Musicians of the Octet School in Gyumri



Credit: FAR Staff


[FAR New York]: FAR Recognized for Its Development Efforts in Gyumri

February 22, 2010

By Marina Bazayeva

Recently, FAR was acknowledged as one of the first organizations to support the development of the Armenian city of Gyumri. On February 11, a ceremony was held in Gyumri honoring Vardanats war heroes. The main battle of the so-called “War of the Vardanank” was fought under the leadership of Vartan Mamikonian as Commander-in-Chief in the year 451. Though the war ended with a Persian victory, it became a symbol of the preservation of the religious freedom and identity of the Armenian people. In memory of those who gave their lives during this war, Gyumri renamed its main square after the Vardanants heroes.

Vardanants Square in Gyumri

Credit: FAR Staff

Part of this month’s commemorative ceremony was the presentation of a well-researched book titled Gyumri. The city’s mayor, Mr. Ghukasyan, personally presented a copy of the book to the FAR headquarters as a token of gratitude to the Fund for Armenian Relief’s efforts in Gyumri.

Copy of Gyumri book, Gifted to FAR