[FAR Social Services]: New Initiative Aims to Repair the Road to VOAH

  • November 25, 2014 11:25 am

Recently residents of FAR’s Vanadzor Old Age Home (VOAH) found out that many of the rooms in their home are named for the generous people who took part in supporting a very important initiative of Shahan Artsruni. A great supporter of VOAH for the past 14 years, Mr. Artsruni has initiated a successful fundraising campaign to rehabilitate the road leading to the VOAH building.

Now, the home is adorned with plaques inscribed with lines like, “In Memory of Vagharshak and Shooshanig Shahinian from their Granddaughter Sandra Shahinian.” Others read, “Nazar and Artemis Nazarian Dining Hall”, “In Memory of Adrina Zanazanian,” and “In Memory of Shahab and Anahid Zanazanian.” These are all the major donors.

Since 2002, FAR has been handling everyday activities for the elderly at VOAH through direct care while also providing them access to medical care and social services. FAR has also taken the lead on solving any issues related to day-to-day operations of the home. There are still many issues remaining, however, the most crucial of being the poor state of the road leading to VOAH. Damaged and filled with holes, it always seems to cause trouble for those making deliveries. Much worse, it can delay the arrivals of an ambulance during an emergency. Work on the road will begin in the spring provided funds are raised.

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[Ayo!]: Welcome New Ambassador of Ayo! Talin Yakob!

  • November 24, 2014 10:40 am

Ayo! recently launched an Ambassador program. Together with Birthright Armenia Ayo! enables young, dynamic people who hail from locations around the world to become fellows at Ayo!. Ayo! ambassadors will become a member of the Ayo! team, work on projects with Ayo!, raise Ayo!’s (and their) profile online and also help with fundraising.

The program has been a long time in the making and we are happy to finally get this underway. We already have our first ambassador from the Netherlands – Talin Yacob – whom you can meet here

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  • November 21, 2014 12:00 pm

Fund for Armenian Relief is devastated by the loss of one of its founders and most dedicated supporters Dr. Edgar Housepian. An accomplished neurosurgeon, professor, dedicated father and husband, and a true humanitarian, Dr. Housepian sadly passed away at the age of 86.

Dr. Housepian was one of FAR’s founders. Following the devastating earthquake, which struck northern Armenia in December 1988, he, along with Archbishop Torkom Manoogian and the late Kevork Hovnanian, immediately gathered resources and support to assist those impacted by the disaster. Mobilizing an all-out relief effort to aid the Armenian people, they traveled to the Soviet Union to help. After witnessing the disaster with their own eyes, the three men knew they had to do more once the news crews turned to the next global crisis and Armenia’s tragedy would cease to command the world’s attention. They subsequently formed the board of what would eventually become FAR to help meet both the short-term relief and the long-term development needs of Armenia.

“Every now and then you meet someone who is truly a great person with tremendous accomplishments wrapped up in a veil of humility and self deprecating humor. Dr. Ed was that man. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to help an individual, a community or a country. His soft spoken voice on the FAR board was a loud one that commanded attention and respect from the rest of us.  With his passing, i feel that we have all lost a great leader and humanitarian. May we all aspire to be half the man he was”, said Randy Sapah-Gulian, Chairman of FAR

Born and raised in New York, Dr. Housepian was a neurosurgeon at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital who continued to pursue medical research more than a decade after her retired. His first foray into medicine occurred when he was 14 years old when he volunteered as an orderly in the operating room at New York Hospital. He flew planes as a pilot in the Navy during World War II before attending medical school. After his retirement he continued to teach and forge partnerships with medical schools around the world. He worked on improving the state of medicine and healthcare in Armenia through FAR all the while earning numerous awards and accolades including the Humanitarian Award from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Dr. Edgar Housepian Professorship in Neurological Surgery established by the Columbia University Board of Trustees, and the Presidential Citation from the Republic of Armenia and Honorary Doctor of Science by Armenia’s Academy of Sciences.

In the 26 years since FAR’s inception, Dr. Housepian exemplified his humanity through the numerous development initiatives he spearheaded and supported. He helped to start FAR’s Continuing Medical Education (CME) program, which gives physicians and medical personnel from Armenia’s rural regions the opportunity to learn new methods, skills and techniques by working with centers in Yerevan and connecting to a strong network.

He was also a great supporter of the refurbishment of Armenia’s National Medical Library, then known as the Republican Scientific Medical Library, by not only expanding its materials and resources, but also transforming it into a modern center fit for teaching English as a Second Language and computer courses for medical professionals.

His dedication and vision for FAR contributed to changing the landscape of Armenia’s healthcare system for the better through better access to improved medical education, and closer working relationships and coordination between medical schools, the health ministry and the parliamentary health commission.

He was a true partner who stood by FAR and helped it to expand its programs in order to meet Armenia’s evolving needs. He was integral in building FAR up from a fledgling group to the organization it is today – one with programs as diverse as the needs of the country it serves.

Dr. Housepian was a man who had said that he always wanted to accomplish something outstanding during his life. Always deeply humble he never truly recognized the impact he had on the lives of so many, and on the development of a nation, simply by being the dedicated, industrious person he was. As some who encapsulated all the qualities of what it means to be a true human being, Dr. Housepian is an example to us all. He will always serve as an inspiration to this organization, its vision and mission, just as he will continue to inspire us as people who are better off having known him.

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[FAR Children’s Center]: Children’s Center Director Mira Antonyan Honored by Armenia’s Prime Minister

  • November 17, 2014 3:56 pm

Dr. Mira Antonyan

FAR Children’s Center Director Dr. Mira Antonyan recently received a medal of recognition for her dedicated efforts and her contribution to the field of social work from Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan. She was presented the award during the “We are Together” event held at Yerevan State University, which was dedicated to Armenia’s Day of Social Workers on November 11. Dr. Antonyan, who is also the Yerevan State University Associate Professor of Social Work and Social Technology, has led the Children’s Center for more than a decade.

The event brought together more than 500 decision and policy makers, representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as students and journalists who celebrated the accomplishments of social workers. The event also facilitated networking and collaboration between social services, and provided an opportunity for students to learn more about their profession.

The event was comprised of three unique parts. An award ceremony was held to recognize outstanding social workers and exceptional individuals who have contributed to the growth of the field. During the ceremony Mr. Abrahamyan gave a congratulatory speech to those in attendance, praising the accomplishments and expressing his optimism for the future of social work.

An exhibition of various social service organizations, including the FAR Children’s Center, was held to highlight the more than 30 participants representing all sectors of the field, which allowed visitors to see what individual social work organizations are doing to improve social services in Armenia.

The FAR Children’s Center proudly supported the final event of the day with the lecture entitled, “Toward Social Services in Armenia,” which focused on the integration of social services with the educational sector and the need for continuing education opportunities for social workers. With around 200 participants, including political leaders, officials, social service providers and members of the academy, the conference’s working groups achieved the goal of promoting recognition, collaboration and mutual support between the government and social service agencies.

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[FAR GTech]: Going After New Opportunities

  • November 16, 2014 5:39 pm

GTech (the Gyumri Information Technology Center) was established by FAR ten years ago to help curb brain drain in Armenia following the devastating 1988 earthquake and the fall of the Soviet Union. Center’s Executive Director Amalya Yeghoyan recently visited the East Coast in September and October to promote the Center’s work. While in Massachusetts, she sat down with the Mirror-Spectator to go over GTech’s mission, which resulted in a beautiful piece by Aram Arkun that you may read here.

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[Ayo!]: Ayo! Successfully Funds its Protective Wall Campagin

  • November 12, 2014 4:10 am

Ayo! last week succeeded in raising all funds for its Protective Walls project. Through the support of so many who helped to donate or contribute to Ayo!’s selfie campaign, the team was able to raise enough to start building. Special thanks goes to FAR Board Chairman Randy Sapah-Gulian who helped to close the final gap.

Ayo! will now move ahead on building the four three-meter-high walls around the school in Aygepar. Children will be able to safely use their playground during recess and will no longer live in fear of being struck by cross-border shooting. The future of the people in Aygepar will be brighter and safer.

All of us wish to thank everyone who made a donation, shared our posts, forwarded our emails to friends and family, attended our fundraisers in Yerevan, or posted those wonderful selfies. Your kindness and generosity will make a huge impact on the lives of the people of Aygepar.

Ayo! is a an innovative crowd funding initiative of FAR sponsored by the Batmasian Family Foundation. For more information about how your support is helping to make a difference for the people of Aygepar and to see what other projects Ayo! is working on, visit our website, read our blog, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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[FAR Child Protection]: Everything for Children

  • November 10, 2014 6:27 am

Circle of Friends discussion on Ararat Child Poverty Reduction Program

The FAR Children’s Center has many friends who care deeply about the plight of struggling Armenian children. The FAR Children’s Center Circle of Friends is a great support group of generous people who are now helping families included in FAR’s Ararat Child Poverty Reduction Program.*

In addition to the aid directly provided to families by FAR, the Circle of Friends has supported 23 families in need. Through the Circle’s support, families were able to obtain building materials to improve unsafe and/or unsanitary living conditions, household items, agricultural assistance including seedlings and animals, vocational training, tools, and so much more!

The Circle of Friends is a voluntary committee of like-minded individuals and organizations that serve as ambassadors for the FAR Children’s Center. It includes esteemed members of our society, eminent composers, and renowned actors, as well as representatives from leading businesses in Armenia.

“Today, I would like to share our Center’s deep gratitude to our friends for their efforts – for donating their time, energy, and resources to impoverished families in the Ararat region. Each and every member of the Circle of Friends has a hand in the Center’s accomplishments. While the Circle of Friends as a unified group has provided much appreciated support, it is the spirit and commitment of each individual member that makes this group so valuable,” says Executive Director of the Children’s Center Dr. Mira Antonyan.

She also underlines the resources donated by CosmopolitanArmenia, The House of Moscow Center, Ardshininvestbank, Gazprom Armenia, Haybusak University, and the Yerevan Jur company.

The recent developments came soon after another generous initiative by the Circle of Friends: hosting Artashat families of the Ararat Child Poverty Reduction program in the Play City Entertainment Center.

The day turned into a real miracle for the children and their families full of ice cream and cookies, bowling, karting, bumper cars, a labyrinth, and 7D movies.

It was difficult to tell who was happier – the participating children or their parents who expressed their gratitude to the organizers and supporters of the wonderful day that allowed them to escape their everyday problems for a couple of hours.

The Board of the Circle of Friends is confident that together with the Armenian Diaspora they will create a safe and carefree childhood for Armenian children from vulnerable families. We at FAR also want to join Dr. Mira Antonyan and send our heartfelt thanks to all members of the Circle of Friends for their compassionate work that has helped to change the lives of children and their families in the Ararat Province.

*Large families of the Ararat region are able to receive support from FAR thanks to continuous generous grants from the Ajemian Foundation and the endless care of Mr. Peter Sarkesian (Michigan, US).

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