The Urgency of ARS Javakhk Fund

FUND PROVIDES ASSISTANCE TO NEGLECTED JAVAKHK ARMENIANS

The Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Western USA Javakhk Fund Committee organized a lecture "The Difficult Socio-Economic Situation of Present Day Javakhk and Plans for Development," presented by manager of the Boston-based Hairenik Association Jirayr Beugekian–and chairman of the Massachusetts ANC Ivan Ardhaldjian. The event took place on Sunday–May 4 at the Pasadena Armenian Center.

Javakhk Fund committee member Lena Bozoian–in opening the event–presenting the ARS’s commitment–with the establishment of the ARS Javakhk Fund–to oversee and develop plans to assist the social–cultural and educational needs of the Armenia’s of Javakhk.

Based on their eyewitness accounts–Beugekian and Ardhaldjian presented both background on the history of Javakhk–and the tragic present day living situation of its people–recalling that during soviet times Javakhk had been a restricted military zone; this isolation–they stressed–put Javakhk back 100 years.

The Javakhk region–bordering Armenia’s northern border with Georgia–has a long history as an Armenian region and was only subordinated to Georgia by Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin in the early years of Soviet rule. Javakhk has two main historical centers–the regional capital of Akhalkalak and the town of Akhaltsikha–and has over 120 towns and villages. The Armenian population numbers some 175,000 and holds up to a 90 percent majority in the various areas of the region.

Relations between Javakhk and the central Georgian government have been strained for several decades–mainly stemming from a conscious policy of economic neglect. For decades–Javakhk has been the most underdeveloped region of the country. And since independence–the Georgian government’s irresponsible economic policies–mismanagement–and neglect lay the foundation for the economic suffering and hardship that plague Javakhk today.

The people of Javakhk live on the subsistence level; over a decade of economic neglect and underdevelopment by the central Georgian government has resulted in substantial poverty and unemployment. Additionally–energy and water shortages affect daily life in the region–and basic social services such as education and health care remain strained beyond the region’s capabilities–leading to the present crisis.

With the severe water and energy shortages–neglect of roads for 30 years–a mountainous climate in which six months of snow is common–and communication between villages nonexistent–the people of Javakhk are struggling. There are generally no communication and transport lines. No central post of phone offices exist.

The lecturers guaranteed that the ARS Javakhk Fund thus comes as a blessing for the people of Javakhk.

The ARS has been successful in legalizing the activities of the ARS in Georgia and raising awareness of the socio-economic situation. Indeed–the ARS is the only non-governmental organization with legal status to operate in Javakhk. A local ARS social office has been established; plans to open the Roupen Der Minassian boarding school for Armenian students are in the works. The ARS has also begun to reconstruct a major hospital in Akhalkalak that will operate at full capacity once completed.

Other projects include the establishment of a center for Armenian youth–development of a sawmill to create much needed employment opportunities–and installation of electricity to three Armenian villages.

The ARS has developed large and small scale projects to assist the population of Javakhk. The speakers reminded the audience that the projects require monetary assistance and urged those present to adopt any of the given projects.

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