Orange County Armenian Community Supports The Halo Trust

Arpie Jivalagian Baghdassarian addresses the gathering
Arpie Jivalagian Baghdassarian addresses the gathering

OC ANCA’s Arpie Jivalagian Baghdassarian addresses the gathering

During the past few weeks the Orange County Armenian American community learned about The Halo Trust, and, provided its support for the organization’s efforts to clear remaining landmines in Artsakh making it safer for families to live there.

Community Town Hall organized by ANCA OC and Knights and Daughters of Vartan
On April 16, the Armenian Community center of Orange County in Santa Ana was filled to capacity to hear about The Halo Trust’s ongoing efforts to clear remaining minefields in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).

The event is sponsored by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Orange County Chapter, and Knights and Daughters of Vartan of Orange County, and featured a number of speakers including Amy Currin, The Halo Trust USA Head of Development.

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Mistress of Ceremonies, Arpie Jivalagian Baghdassarian welcomed the community, provided some background information regarding Artsakh and The Halo Trust, and asked everyone to stand in a moment of silence for the 3 Halo Trust staffers who were killed om March 29, 2017 when an anti-tank landmine was accidentally detonated in the Ghazanchi area of Nagorno-Karabakh. “They lost their lives while working to make the land a safe place for the people of Artsakh,” said Javalagian-Baghdassarian.

Jivalagian-Baghdassarin invited FR. Karekin Bedourian to say a prayer for all those that have lost their lives in Artsakh, whether it be those on the front lines or those clearing mines.

She then introduced ANCA Orange County and Western Region Advisory board member Garo R. Madenlian who discussed his experience at The Halo Trust headquarters and an active minefield in northern Artsakhk in September of last year. He explained the importance of clearing the remaining minefields to make the region a safe place for children, farmers, and the entire population. Madenlian explained how Congressman Valadeo and the ANCA secured over one million dollars of US funding for Halo Trust’s ongoing efforts to clear mines in the region. After a short video presentation of The Halo Trust headquarters, Madenlian encouraged everyone to get involved and do their part however they can. He said, “Most of you know me and have my phone number, call me and let’s do this together.”

Jivalagain-Baghdassarian then introduced Amy Currin, explained she joined The Halo Trust in 2010 and manages private donor relations in the United States while supporting Halo’s global outreach, and in this capacity she has visited Halo minefields in many locations including Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Angola, and Columbia.

Amy Currin provided background information about The Halo Trust, its history and how it has expanded to being the largest minefield clearance organization in the world. Along with a power point presentation she highlighted The Halo Trust’s efforts in Nagorno-Karabakh and explained the funding situation. In essence, that the US aid funds mine clearing operations within the original borders of Nagorno Karabakh but they have to rely on private donations for the other liberated areas of Artsakh. She pointed out that their current fundraising campaign includes a donor who will match all donations thus doubling the amounts raised.

Currin also highlighted The Halo Trust’s education component, detailing their programs geared towards teaching children about the dangers of mines, and what to do if they come across any such devices. With photographs and graphs she discussed the dedicated and dangerous work of their staffers and charted the success rate of both their mine clearance and educational programs in decreasing the number of injuries and casualties as a result.

Jivalagain-Baghdassarian next introduced Dr. John Poochigian, chairman of the Knights of Vartan Orange County chapter who highlighted the importance of this life-saving project and reminded everyone that it is “our duty to what we can to help our brothers and sisters in the homeland.” He also encouraged those in attendance to make the time, ask questions, and do their part.

Izzy Toumanian, chairwoman of the Daughters of Vartan Orange County Chapter, took the podium and stressed that attending such events and creating awareness in our communities about these efforts is the first step but “we all should also donate to the Halo Trust because every little bit helps”. She then presented Amy Currin with a check announcing the OC Daughters of Vartan’s donation to start the process.

Arpie Jivalagain-Baghdassarian thanked all those in attendance and encouraged people to remain, talk to Amy Currin and the other presenters, and to get involved or do more.

OC Knights and Daughter of Vartan Fundraiser for The Halo Trust
The Orange County chapters of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan organized a fundraiser for The Halo Trust this past Sunday afternoon. The event was hosted by Dr. John and Christine Poochigian at their residence in Corona Del Mar and was attended by all segments of the community who showed their support for The Halo Trust’s ongoing efforts to clear landmines in Artsakh.

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The Paris themed fundraiser was complete with catering by an executive chef with French appetizers and dishes, musical entertainment by Radmila Bacir who played a number of famous modern and traditional songs, and even a raffle where all guests received a gift for attending and supporting.

The atmosphere however, was all Armenian as guests arrived at the Poochigian residence they were treated with a number of large photographs from The Halo trust showing its staff in action clearing minefields. There were also informational brochures and pamphlets highlighting the The Halo Trust’s activities in Nagorno Karabakh, and discussions surrounded The Halo trust’s activities and how to help make Artsakh safer for the people living there.

The Poochigian’s had put a tremendous amount of effort in organizing the fundraiser, inviting the community into their home, and helping to spread the word to raise almost $5,000.00 that afternoon for The Halo Trust.

ANCA OC is the Orange County chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America, Western Region, and part of the most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of activists and supporters, and activists throughout Orange County and affiliated organizations and institutions in the region, it advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of local and national issues.

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