Archive for the ‘FAR Soup Kitchens’ Category


[FAR & BAFA Soup Kitchens]: Gohar Karapetyan And The Staff of Nor Hajn’s Soup Kitchen.

January 11, 2011

FAR’s Nor Hajn Soup Kitchen has operated for 16 years. Gohar Karapetyan, part of a team of five cooks, including Dariko Dallakyan, Alisa Hakobyan, Anahit Melikyan, Sveta Baghramyan, and their supervisor Babken Hakobyan, lead the kitchen’s operations.

Together, they all work in the soup kitchen as one peaceful family.

Nor Hajn Soup Kitchen’s Cooks
(from left to right)Alisa, Sveta, Dariko, Anahit


Credit: Felix Arustamyan

Born in 1963, Gohar is the youngest employee of the soup kitchen. She has worked there since 1995. Her husband Harutyun died four years ago, leaving her alone with her two sons Hamlet, 28, and Sargis, 24, and her one and a half year old grandson Harutyun. Just as many other family members of soup kitchen employees, Gohar’s husband used to visit and eat there. During those years, everyone lived in very poor conditions, so the kitchen also served staff as a means of support.

“Since my husband’s death this place has given me much needed help and a source of peace,” Gohar said. ”This soup kitchen has become my second home.”

Gohar Karapetyan


Credit: Felix Arustamyan

All employees are comforted when they know that each of their beneficiaries have their meal every day, said Gohar. They also worry when the elderly patrons do not show. “We always take the meal to their homes when they are ill, when we know they are unable to visit the soup kitchen,” she said. “We are happy to do this kind work and we are always touched to receive the appreciation of people. Sometimes the old men kiss our hand as a token of their gratitude. We share with our beneficiaries their happiness and sorrow. We celebrate the birth of a grandchild, and we buy a present for the family.”

Gohar recalled a young beneficiary named Naira who had attended the soup kitchen since the age of 10. She had vision problems and FAR Soup Kitchens Program Coordinator Rafik Martirosyan helped her to cure her eyes thanks to the support of BAFA. When Naira married a man in Javakhk, the entire staff bought presents for the new couple. “We always treated her as our daughter,” said Gohar. “And now she often calls us and tells us how much she misses us.”

All soup kitchen staff are grateful to FAR and BAFA. Many have said that it’s because of the kitchen that they have been able to support their families for many years and receive help in dire circumstances. Although their salaries are not high, they remain devoted. Gohar’s story attests to this, “We are pleased to receive the blessings of our beneficiaries and provide a way for everyone to receive their daily bread.” 


[FAR & BAFA Soup Kitchens]: Beneficiary Profile: Nora Gzoghyan.

January 10, 2011

“Grandma” Nora Gzoghyan is 70 years old. She has come to the Nor Hajn Soup Kitchen since the day it opened in 1995. With an elder sister who’s ill and bed ridden, Grandma Nora always saves a portion of her daily meal to take home to her sister.

“We live together in a dormitory,” said Nora, who is her sister’s sole caretaker. “I thank God for this place, this soup kitchen, where I can find warmth and a daily meal. It is here where I have friends and where I am surrounded by dear people. When the soup kitchen is closed during the weekend, my sister and I stay hungry for days. I only receive a pension now, which is hardly enough to live on.”

Nora Gzoghyan

Nora Gzoghyan 1

Credit: Felix Arustamyan

Grandma Nora lost her husband 25 years ago and she has no children. For years, she worked as a custodian in a local school. She extolled the kindness of the kitchen’s staff who always make her feel at home. “They come and ask me if I need something, like if I want a hot tea to warm myself from the cold. I am so thankful for all of them.”

Due to her serious vision problems, FAR Soup Kitchen Coordinator Rafik Martirosyan helped Grandma Nora obtain necessary medicine, which is brought to the kitchen for her each week.

“My hope and belief is in this place,” she said, as tears welled up in her eyes.

Grandma Nora Receives Christmas Presents

Nora Gzoghyan with Christmas presents

Credit: Felix Arustamyan


[FAR & BAFA Soup Kitchens]: FAR & BAFA Distribute Christmas Gifts to Nor Hajn Soup Kitchen.

January 7, 2011

Every holiday season FAR visits its five soup kitchens to deliver Christmas gifts to regular visitors. December 24 brought staff to Nor Hajn where they distributed to new clothes, shoes and jackets. A member of the Bay Area Friends of Armenia (BAFA), which financially supports the kitchens, also joined.

Christmas Presents for Soup Kitchen Beneficiaries

Credit: Felix Arustamyan

BAFA Board member Lusine Kassarjian distributed the clothes and toys she had gathered over the course of two months thanks to the support of numerous individuals and organizations, along with some helpful PR from Yerevan’s “Shunch” Yoga Center, which advertised the drive through their website and Facebook page.

BAFA Board Member Lusine Kassarjian
With Grandpas Hakob and Gurgen

Credit: Felix Arustamyan

Lusine moved from the U.S. to Armenia with her family two years ago. She now manages her own small company called “Molorak (Planet) and Arts.” She’s also the artistic director of the International Animation Film Festival “ReAnimania.”

“On the eve of this holiday, it is really important to bring at least a little joy and happiness to our beneficiaries, and present them Christmas gifts – particularly the warm clothes, which they will really need this winter,” said FAR Soup Kitchens Coordinator Rafik Martirosyan. “The warm clothes are no less important than their daily meals.”

Rafik Martirosyan Delivering the Christmas Presents

Christmas Presents for Nor Hajn Soup Kitchen Beneficiaries

Grandma with Christmas Presents

Credit: Felix Arustamyan


[FAR & BAFA Soup Kitchens]: “Meals of Love”.

October 7, 2010

With support from the Bay Area Friends of Armenia (BAFA), FAR administers four soup kitchens throughout Armenia.

Meals of Love1

Credit: FAR Staff

It’s become tradition for Armenian-American children and adults to raise money to donate to FAR’s soup kitchens each year. These “meals of love” campaigns benefit some of the most low-income families and destitute elderly in the country.

Meals of love3

Credit: FAR Staff

Because of a recent generous donation from a dedicated group, more Armenians received nourishment.

Meals of Love6

Credit: FAR Staff

Thanks to a donation from Richard Aghoian, Hagop Arslanoglu, Alice Kasparian, Dottie Miler, Richard Najarian, Walter Ohanian, Frances Poloshian, Mary Zoryan and Araxie Kasparian, FAR’s four Yerevan soup kitchens were able to provide every visitor with a meal.

Meals of love 5

Credit: FAR Staff


[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


[FAR & BAFA Soup Kitchens]: A Necessary Lifeline.

June 2, 2010

The global economic crisis has hit communities hard all around the world. Armenia is no exception, which makes programs like the BAFA soup kitchens more important than ever. These kitchens, which are run jointly by FAR and the San Francisco-based Bay Area Friends of Armenia (BAFA), have become a crucial means of support for many families and individuals, both young and old.

The five soup kitchens were established 15 years ago to provide vital support to Armenians after the fall of the Soviet Union. Today, they continue to offer a lifeline by offering free meals, supplies, and even a social outlet to those in need. The kitchens — three in Yerevan and two in Ashtarak and Nor-Hajn — serve about 850 people a day?.

Among them are people like Roza Karapetyan, 78, whose pension of 19,000 AMD is barely enough for her to survive in her small room at the Nor-Hajn Dormitory. Roza and her husband left their lives in Artsvashen after the Azeri army seized the territory and forced out all Armenians in 1992. Her husband died two years after their arrival to this small town adjacent to Yerevan.

Another beneficiary is 38-year-old Susanna Khachatryan, a mother of two. Since her husband passed away, the soup kitchen has become her family’s only hope for salvation. Her daughters, Araksya, who is in the 7th grade, and Ani, who is in the 4th grade, are among its youngest beneficiaries.

“They are fond of the tasty meals served in the soup kitchen,” said Coordinator Rafik Martirosyan. “Though the country improved year after year in the period following independence, a certain layer of society still longs for its daily bread.” FAR and BAFA are doing their best to fill the void.

Araksya & Ani

Araksya & Ani 1.jpg

Rosa Karapetian

Rosa Karapetian 1.jpg

Susanna with her daughters

Susanna with her daughters 1.jpg

Credit: Levon Lachikyan


[FAR Soup Kitchens]: California Sunday School Provides Two Days of Meals for FAR / BAFA Soup Kitchen.

April 29, 2010

Once again the children of the Sunday School of St. Mary Armenian Church in Costa Mesa, California, with the help of principal Izzy Toumanian and Nina Youusefian, pulled together a huge donation for FAR’s soup kitchens. Their gift provided two days of free meals, which fed about 800 people.

FAR’s five soup kitchens, which operate in cooperation with the Bay Area Friends of Armenia (BAFA), are located in Yerevan, Nor Hajn, and Ashtarak. Young and old alike rely on them for nourishing meals as well as clothing, toiletries, and a social outlet. FAR’s soup kitchens are also the only that serve refugee children from neighboring Azerbaijan.

Over the past few years St. Mary’s has started to support the BAFA soup kitchens on an annual basis. In fact, some beneficiaries are familiar with the children of Costa Mesa Sunday School. Many continually express their gratitude for the school’s support.

“These meals nourish not only out stomachs, but our souls,” said Shushan, an 84-year-old grandmother who frequently visits Nor Hajn. “We are so grateful.”

Grandmother Shushan

Grandma Shushan.jpg

Refugee Children from Azerbaijan

Nor Hajn Soup Kitchen's young beneficiary .jpg

Beneficiaries of Soup Kitchen

Nor Hajn Soup Kitchen .jpg

Credit: Felix Arustamyan


[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”.


[FAR Soup Kitchens]: Madagh Dinner at FAR Soup Kitchen

September 25, 2009

Each year, FAR supporters who are members of the Armenian Diaspora visit their motherland.  This year, FAR was graced with the visit of a generous supporter named Michael Ohanian.  Mr. Ohanian is an Armenian engineer from Boston, who first visited Armenia in 1988 and witnessed the great needs of its people.  As a result of this experience, Mr. Ohanian decided to lend a helping hand. Every year he donates a few computers to the Armenian State Engineering University and Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) State University.

On his most recent trip to Armenia with his wife Sonya, Mr. Ohanian expressed his wish to deliver a daily meal to the beneficiaries of FAR’s Nor Hatchn Soup Kitchen.  Mr. Ohanian mobilized his local community and collected money from several Armenian families in order to fund a traditional Madagh meal at the Soup Kitchen.  A Madagh (sacrifice) meal is an Armenian tradition whereby a meal is blessed by a priest, then donated to the needy by an individual who has recently experienced good fortune.

We thank Mr. Ohanian for his generous contributions to FAR!

Sonya and Michael Ohanian

New Hajn 1

Credit: FAR Staff


[FAR Soup Kitchen]: Beneficiaries Stories, Janik from Nor Nchaj

July 28, 2009

Janik, 69 years old, visits FAR’s Nor Nchaj Soup Kitchen every day. The story of his difficult life is written on his wrinkled face. At an age when people should retire and live in decency, Janik lives on the street.

When he shares his story, he looks at you with very pale blue eyes: sadly, he is becoming blind. Minor surgery would restore his vision before he loses it entirely, but he has no pension and his stiff legs prevent him from working. Today, the Soup Kitchen is Janik’s last share of humanity, last hope to survive. At FAR, we are doing all we can to help the elderly of our Armenian communities live out their last days with peace and dignity.

Janik Attending FAR’s Soup Kitchen


Credit : Celine Kaladjian