The war in Syria rages on, killing hundreds of thousands and displacing millions. The Syrian-Armenians who were forced to flee their homes and who found shelter in Armenia are still in need of financial assistance, psychological support, and much more. FAR has had a small but important role in helping Syrian-Armenians rebuild their lives in Armenia, most recently helping nine determined students to be able to attend college.
Earlier this year, the Center for Coordination of Syrian-Armenian Issues, a local NGO, approached FAR for assistance. Students were chosen as beneficiaries of FAR`s Scholarship Programs based on their levels of need. FAR has agreed to cover 25% of their tuition fees, with the other 75% covered by the Armenian government, AGBU, and the Galouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
Recently FAR’s Education and Science Programs Manager Edik Karapetyan met with the Syrian students originally from Aleppo, Raqqa and Kessab. In addition to announcing the good news about FAR`s support, he introduced them to FAR’s Education Program. Students also talked about the difficulties they face in Armenia. Most of their parents remain in Syria with few opportunities to leave anytime soon. Those whose parents are in Armenia are struggling to find work.
“We are thinking of all of the ways we can help them as much as possible,” said Edik, who remains in close contact with all Syrian-Armenian NGOs.
The Aleppo Compatriotic Charitable Organization (ACCO) approached FAR earlier this year for assistance. FAR worked with the United Armenia Fund who shipped 2,000 pairs of Tom’s to Armenia, which were distributed through the ACCO to some of the more than 10,000 displaced Syrians in Armenia.
Another great cooperation with ACCO was the inclusion of 20 Syrian-Armenian children into the FAR’s Aragats Camp Program past summer. For three weeks, refugee children participated in the camp’s sports, games, and various cultural and intellectual activities. They also had the chance to tell other children about their experiences of having to flee Syria, ultimately providing them a safe space to express their feelings, which also helped Armenian children to gain a greater understanding of their respective backgrounds.
“You gave an opportunity to the vulnerable Syrian-Armenian children registered in ACCO to attend Camp Aragats. They had an amazing and positive time there. It was an incredibly enriching place; children were able to experience a sense of community and belonging,” wrote Ani Balkhyan, Founder and President for ACCO, in a thank you letter to camp organizers and supporters.