BY MIKHAEL ALAYAN
On October 16th, 2015, the Kids of Karabakh volunteers coordinated a unique event for the San Francisco Bay Area Armenian community: the Kids of Karabakh Walk-a-thon. Through the generous donations made toward the cause, the volunteers were able to raise funds necessary to ship clothing, school supplies and toys to children living in remote villages of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The idea of sending clothes to underprivileged families in Karabakh was born when Baku Armenian refugee Arevik Makasjian traveled back to Armenia and Karabakh with her family in 2008. When she visited her father’s village in Artsakh she was bluntly introduced to the economic hardship of the local population, which solely depended on their farms to survive. She noticed the old and worn out clothing the children were wearing while playing outside. Arevik decided to give away all of her son’s clothing during this trip. At that very moment she promised herself to do everything possible for the children of Karabakh when she returned home to United States.
This is how the Project was born. Initially, the group had a small number of supporters donating and funding the shipping costs. The number of supporters grew with time and the group has big plans for the future. This year many motivated volunteers, some Baku Armenian refugees, joined the Project and took it to the next level by organizing the first San Francisco Bay Area Kids of Karabakh Walk-a-Thon.
Participants of varying age groups came from all over San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area to support the effort. The Walk-a-thon started with registration at nine o’clock in the morning on a beautiful clear day in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset district by Lake Merced. The group provided bottled water, Armenian coffee and homemade Nazook / Gata to all participants. Upon the completion of the registration process, community members began the four and a half mile long walk around the lake.
Due to the generous donations received, the group will be able to ship over ten boxes of clothing and school supplies by the end of this year, which is anticipated to be received by families in Karabakh in two to three months depending on weather conditions.
The Kids of Karabakh continues to collect donations and to fundraise for the remainder of the year. 100% of the donations will cover the shipment of boxes. To contribute goods or funds and for more information, please email the Project organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org