Third ARS Javakhk Fundraiser at Sea

The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, Regional Executives Javakhk Fund Committee held its third annual fundraiser on March 11 aboard the M.V. Majestic ship with about 200 sponsors and participants. More than $35,000 was raised for critically needed humanitarian assistance to the Armenia’s of Javakhk The program included a new video showcasing the accomplishmen’s of the committee in Javakhk during the last seven years with funds and donations by local supporters and friends. Photographs depicting everyday life of Armenia’s in Javakhk were on display. Entertainment was provided by violinist Meroujan Markarian, saxophonist Arshag Khuntirian, and comedian Varsig Nervessian. The event was attended by Representative of Consul General of the Republic of Armenia, Artur Madoyan, ARF Bureau representatives Dr. Vicken Hovsepian, ARS Central Executive Representatives Hasmig Derderian and Nova Hindoyan, and representative of ARS Western Region of USA., Sonia Peltekian. Avedik Izmirlian represented ARF Western Region Central Committee, and guest representative of ARF East Coast Zohrab Tazian, other local CC members, Hamazkayin Regional Executive, Alex Pilibos school principal, Viken Yacoubian, Ferrahian school principal, John Kossakian, and a large number of ARS regional and chapter executives, sponsors and supporters. Welcoming remarks were made by Lena Bozoyan, Vice-chair of the Javakhk Fund Committee, who stressed the importance of making a difference in the lives of so many Javakhk Armenia’s through the Fund. Haigoush Kohler, Chair of the Javakhk Fund Committee had participated in the ceremonial opening and ribbon-cutting event of the Youth Center of Akhaltskha on September 25. The center was renovated and furnished by funds provided by the ARS of Western US, Javakhk Fund Committee. Kohler expressed her concern over the deteriorating conditions in Javakhk as well as the indifference of the Georgian authorities in regard to the rights and needs of the Armenian villages and farmers, as well as the cancellation of the Armenian subjects in schools reducing it to a single hour once per week for religious studies and related subjects in Armenian. The shortage of clerics and the exodus in large numbers of youth and families seeking better lives elsewhere were some of the major concerns delineated by Kohler. Following Kohlers remarks Sonia Peltekian, chairperson of the ARS of Western US Regional Executive, praised and thanked the committee for exceptional teamwork and dedication. She also remarked about the upcoming ARS Centennial, adding that the ARS continued to serve the myriad needs of the Armenian people. She thanked the attendees and the organizations supporters for their continued dedication to the ARS. Peltekian and Kohler, together presented awards to individuals who, through their generous support and contributions, have provided assistance for Javakhk, particularly by funding renovation of schools and other projects through the Armenian Educational Foundation of Glendale, California. Plaques of appreciation were presented to Hagop and Hilda Bahgdassarian, Hagop and Mina Shirvanian, and Sheila Pappayants. In addition, Khachig and Elo Mouradian, Varant and Hoori Melkonian and Nick and Mary Kanian will be visited by committee members since they were not present to receive the award. Shirvanian remarked that the honor should go to the Armenian people who gave their sons and husbands to the cause. Hagop Baghdassarian presented a letter K diamond pin to Haigoush Kohler as a symbol of appreciation from the children of Javakhk for her affection and support. Shant Baboujian and Tamar Yardemian of the Armenian Youth Federation who had taken the initiativewith the support of the Javakhk Fund Committeeto videotape and photograph daily life in Javakhk last summer, provided their eyewitness accounts. The articles they wrote for the winter 2007 special Javakhk issue of Haytoug, the official publication of the AYF Western US, were provided to the guests along with a copy of the video, for which they helped provide the footage. Hovan Tashjian, who traveled to Javakhk just last month, praised the AYF for creating an environment that allowed two of its members to think of such a project to bring the Javakhk Armenians soul and spirit to us. He presented the dire situation in Javakhk and asked those present to double their contributions to help give the people of Javakhk the hope they deserve. As the ship was approaching its final destination in Long Beach, John Kossakian was the last to provide eyewitness accounts and analysis of the role of the ARS in Javakhk. He recalled the days before the 1988 earthquake in Armenia, when he had wondered if the role of the ARS to help the underprivileged was too wide of a mission, along with its educational role. He characterized Javakhk as the new frontier.

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