December 21st was a very special day for the beneficiaries of the FAR Children’s Center. The youngsters were visited a puppet, clown, and fairy tale characters who dazzled them with songs, dances, and stunts. The special guests from the Puppeteers Union had been invited by Children’s Center Circle of Friends Member Mr. Avetik Nazaretyan to make the children’s day unforgettable and dreamlike.
The boys and girls were delighted to participate in juggling matches and competitions. They were especially excited to become acquainted with several live animals, including a rabbit, monkey, snake, and a lizard.
Following the interactive performances, the children were surprised by Santa Claus who had come to meet the children and deliver gifts. His greetings and advice were a great inspiration for the young ones. The icing on top of the cake was quite literally the icing on top of a delicious cake presented by Agnes Cakes to brighten up the children’s holidays.
What might a simple visit mean to childish human minds that seek communication but struggle to fully express how much they really wish to communicate? They are exhilarated by a mere visit of a group of people who bring them gifts and the joy of an annual celebration that they always associate with the Dzmer Papik (The Armenian Santa Claus) – Christmas and New Year.
Such energy filled the room during the holiday celebration held at the Nubarashen #11 Special School this past December. The students had prepared a Christmas show that embodied the heroes of an Armenian fairy tale – all on their own. They performed songs and dances as a special act of gratitude for their kind benefactors and captivated audience members, among whom were delighted FAR staff members. Afterwards, they enjoyed a nutritious dinner and received the benefactors’ presents delivered by Dzmer Papik.
The event takes place every year thanks to the generous support of outstanding benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Michael and Marie Haratunian. The Haratunians have helped to renovate the facilities and provided the School with foodstuff and presents for the children on special occasions.
For its selflessly devoted staff, Nubarashen #11 Special School seems a lifelong vocation, a place of everyday input of energy and professional potential. It is only by the generosity of benefactors that this shelter, which operates with practically no state support, still consoles the hearts of the parents who come to see smiles on their children’s innocent faces.
Satenik Hovhannisyan is a 3rd year student of Armenian Philology at Yerevan State University and a Mathevosian Scholarship recipient. For the past 13 years, she has also been a freestyle dancer. Alongside developing her linguistic career through perseverant studies, Satenik enjoys sharing her passion for dance in a benevolent and valuable initiative at FAR’s Children’s Support Center.
She first proposed to organize dance classes for the children during a meeting with the Mathevosian Scholarship Program beneficiaries at FAR’s Yerevan office. Now, the classes take place twice a week – to the delight and happiness of the children.
Satenik’s classmate Ani Cherbechyan, who has also studies at a dance college, has gladly joined her for this wonderful initiative. Together, the young women involve the children in fun training sessions where they not only teach Armenian national dances and discipline, but also instill the values of self-confidence and teamwork.
“Besides the dancing practice itself, you feel there is something very positive that you can pass to those children,” Satenik points out.
In 2009, UNICEF defined child poverty as one of the most acute manifestations of human poverty. It is today one of the most critical problems in Armenia, as it negatively affects children throughout their lives.
The Fund for Armenian Relief is about to launch a new social project channelled toward the reduction of child poverty rates in Armenia thanks to the commitment and willingness of the Ajemian Foundation and FAR’s outstanding benefactor Peter Sarkessian of Detroit, MI. The program envisions targeted assistance to children and their families who face financial hardship and are exposed to various risks.
Through this project, FAR will identify families with children who are living in poverty, and provide them with adequate nutrition and small grants to develop a sustainable living, among other forms of economic support, as well as ensure access to healthcare services, psychological assistance, education, and other basic needs.
The program is a five-year intervention targeted towards struggling families with three or more children in the towns of Masis and Artashat in the Republic of Armenia’s Ararat marz. Within the proposed five-year period, FAR and its Children’s Center envision serving an average of 130 families with three or more children (400+ children).
To identify the socially disadvantaged families, FAR will contact the local social services to obtain data and select those families who:
- have a minimum of 3 children aged 0-18,
- are rated as poor according to the Republic of Armenia’s Family Poverty Benefit System,
- and are willing to cooperate with FAR and its Children’s Center to overcome the crisis situation.
The goal of this new program is to empower Armenian families to sustain themselves and lead better lives.