The Barahantes Plague


"Amot to all those who did not show support for such an important cause,"said celebrated drummer Jacob Armen during his performance at last Sunday’s ‘Hye Shakar’ fundraising concert–to benefit diabetic children in Armenia. I was glad that I was not alone in the thoughts that were swirling through my mind during the show.

Our organizations have to come up with more creative ways to raise money for Armenia and the community at large. Most hold annual dinner-dances as major fundraising events. These types of gatherings often raise substantial amounts and provide social entertainment to barahantes lovers. However–they do not contribute to the cultural life or enrichment of the community.

Los Angeles is home to numerous talented individuals who are more than willing to bring their participation to humanitarian causes such as the juvenile diabetes project being implemented in Armenia by the American Armenian Medical Society of California (AAMSC).

Fundraising events like ‘Hye Shakar’ serve dual purposes. The first is the obvious fact that proceeds go to a worthy cause that most Armenia’s would support. The second is the fulfillment of the cultural void plaguing our community. Any Armenian would take pride in the talents possessed and showcased by the musicians featured in last Sunday’s concert.

For years to come–people will remember ‘that benefit concert for diabetic children in Armenia.’ The same does not hold true for the countless dinner-dances that are organized year after year. By all means–I am not calling for a ban on barahanteses. I just wish more enriching events would be planned alongside these ever-present banquets.

There are many organizations and individuals involved in putting together these types of untraditional fundraisers and events. It is imperative that more of our organizations head in this direction. By doing so–the new generation will follow–instead of being forced to attend one barahantes after another.

Most people do not mind going to dinner-dances once in a while. However–when these banquets occur every weekend in different parts of the city–they lose their significance. There was a time when the annual barahantes was anxiously awaited by most in the community. Today we find ourselves bombarded with such events. For once–let us open the "calendar of events" section of our newspapers to find more innovative–cultural events being advertised equally.

Those still scarred from the unfortunate handling of donations during the Armenian earthquake of 1988 need to get over it and move on. There are plenty of reputable organizations in this community and throughout the Diaspora that have been implementing various projects in Armenia over the past ten years. The construction of the Goris-Stepanakert highway is living proof of this. Armenia’s need to stop hiding under the ‘where is our money going’ excuse because frankly–it’s getting old.

If our organizations do not meet your expectations–then apply your field of expertise to the homeland or to the local community. Dr. Mark Nazarian’s initiation of the diabetes program in Armenia is a prime example of an individual who cares enough to make a difference. The AAMSC’s efforts in Armenia–as well those of other like-minded organizations–are commendable and should be emulated.

Perhaps then we will be free from the barahantes epidemic that has swept through the coomunity for many years.


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