Posts Tagged ‘BAFA’


[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.


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.


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 –


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


[Soup-Kitchens] : BAFA and FAR Organize Workshops in Nor Hatchn

May 15, 2009

One of FAR Soup Kitchens is located in village Nor Hatchn, close to Yerevan. Many of the industrial factories that operated here have been closed for years. The majority of young people left for Russia in search of work and the elderly remaining in the village live on a very small pension. Refugees from Azerbaijan live in dormitories under extremely poor conditions.

Among beneficiaries of this soup kitchen Nor Hatchn are three generations of refugee families and many pensioners of the village. BAFA (Bay Area Friends of Armenia) and FAR have initiated the organization of an entertainment program for children visiting the soup kitchen. The “Manana” organization will conduct workshops and teach photography, journalism, and film shooting for the youngsters.

Young Beneficiary of FAR Soup Kitchen

boy with soup

Copyright 2008 by Julie Dermansky