Hai Sird Reviews ARS Humanitarian Efforts

WATERTOWN–Mass.–Hai Sird–the international publication of the Armenian Relief Society–was published last month after a several-year hiatus. Although the decades-old periodical was last published in 1993–much has happened since then in Armenian life in which the ARS has continued to play a vital role.

The pages of the current issue of Hai Sird–focusing mostly on present activity–offer a sampling of the ARS’s work of recent years in the Homeland and the communities of the Diaspora. "But even these few examples provide ample evidence that this foremost Armenian charitable organization–88 years young–will always be ‘with the people–for the people,’" stresses the editorial in the November 1998 issue.

Among the ARS’s Armenia-based activities featured in Hai Sird is the Mother and Child Health Center in Akhurian–in the earthquake zone. The construction of the center was sponsored by the ARS of Eastern United States. Another project–undertaken by the Armenian Relief Cross (the Armenia affiliate of the ARS)–for the first time provided the village of Arjut (Lori region) with direct access to potable water via a pipeline.

"The ARS has worked with Armenia’s ministries of health and education to help ameliorate the devastating affects of the 1988 earthquake," says ARS–Inc. executive director Tatul Sonentz-Papazian–who first visited Armenia immediately after the earthquake as part of a high-level ARS delegation. "And rightly so–the generous work of the ARS has been recognized by the present and previous administrations in Armenia."

Considerable space is devoted to the ARS-sponsored pan-Armenian symposium held in Armenia in May on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of modern Armenian statehood as well as to the interment of the remains of Armenian heroine Soseh "Mairig" Vartanian in Yerablur national cemetery in Yerevan on the same occasion. An official part of state-sponsored Independence Day commemorations–the interment ceremonies were attended by high-level government officials–including Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsyan.

"Throughout its 88-year existence–the ARS has concerned itself not only with humanitarian work but also with social and civic issues," says co-editor Vahe Habeshian. He also points to the recent admission of the ARS–a Non-Governmental Organization–into the ran’s of the United Nations Economic and Social Council with consultative status. The new accreditation upgrades the status of the ARS at the UN from observer status.

In several articles–Hai Sird takes up various issues of interest to women and humanitarian organizations. Prof. Rubina Peroomian of UCLA writes on the identity of Armenian women in public life. Khachig Der Ghougasian–editor of Armenia daily in Argentina–writes on the role of social and humanitarian work in the establishment of democracy. Anthropologist Dr. Sima Aprahamian explores the topic "Armenian Women Organizing Resistance and Change."

Ruminations on art and life by the late Hakob Karapents form an appropriate context for the publication of several poems (most of them in English translation by Sonentz)–including works from Vehanoush Tekian–Henrik Edoyan–and Nader Naderpour. Karapents’s essay had been originally scheduled to appear in the 1994 issue of Hai Sird–before his untimely death.

The current issue contains a wealth of other information–including ARS regional activities worldwide–an overview of the ARS’s participation as an NGO in the United Nations–and miscellaneous items of cultural interest–such as an article on Armenian needlework.

Copies of the bilingual (English and Armenian)–full-color Hai Sird may be obtained by contacting the Central Executive Board of the Armenian Relief Society at 80 Bigelow Avenue–Watertown–MA 02472; ars1910@aol.com; (617)926-5892.

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