YEREVAN—An event celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the ARS “Sponsor-A-Child” Program took place in Yerevan’s “Gabriel Soundoukian” National Academic Theater, under the patronage and in the presence of Armenia’s First Lady, Rita Sarkisian on September 30.
Present at this function were also Armenia’s Prime Minister, Tigran Sargsyan, Defense Minister’s Representative, Ara Nazaryan, ARF Bureau Member and Member of Parliament, Vahan Hovannesian, Representatives of the Diaspora Ministry, various state functionaries, members of the ARS Central Executive Board. The large audience included numerous ARS members from various countries of the world, as well as a great number of alumni and alumna from various regions of Armenia and Artsakh, sponsored over the years by this ARS orphans program, and a number of Syrian-Armenian youngsters, presently residing in Armenia.
Opening the ceremonies, the Master of Ceremonies invited Bishop Gevorg Saroyan, representing His Holiness Karekin II, to read the Catholicos of All Armenians’ Blessings of the event, followed by the Patriarchal Message of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. Then, ascending the stage, Prime Minister Sargsyan addressed the audience, stressing, that “over the entire duration of its service, the ARS has been there, where there was need for assistance. The ARS was never interested in promoting itself…. with its devoted activity, it has tried its utmost to support the Armenians with all its means, in the process, earning both the love and respect of the people.” In his turn, in a written message read by his deputy, Ara Nazaryan, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan expressed confidence, that “the ARS shall continue to assist in providing education, health and social services to the children and students of coming generations.” ARF Bureau Member and Member of Parliament, Vahan Hovhannisyan pointed out, that the “Sponsor-A-Child” Program, initiated by the ARS in 1992, was a daring and necessary step, taken by an experienced organization aware of a troubled future and a protracted war, adding more burdens on the Society’s shoulders. He underlined the fact, that all ARF-ers, all Armenians should be proud, having on their side a humanitarian organization like the ARS.
One by one, the daughters of Tatul Krpeyan and Simon Gasparyan were brought up on stage, children of two martyred freedom-fighters, the first from Armenia, the second, from Artsakh. The two alumna of the ARS “Sponsor-A-Child” Program expressed their gratitude to the ARS and their Diasporan sponsors, who stood by them through very difficult times. Aspram Krpeyan and Simona Gasparyan expressed their deep sympathy and understanding of the suffering of the Syrian-Armenian youth, wishing that, as victory brought peace to Artsakh and Armenia, peace may come to Syria, restoring normal times to the lives of their Syrian peers.
Next, Galya Arustamyan, Chairperson of the Martyred Artsakh Freedom-fighters’ Families Association who, after words of thanks and appreciation to the ARS for standing by the people of Artsakh during hard times, decorated the Society with the Medal of “Maternal Message”, handing the Medal to the ARS Chairperson, Vicky Marashlian.
The last address was delivered by the ARS Chairperson who, after a brief presentation of the nature of the ARS “Sponsor-A-Child” Program expressed gratitude to ARS members world-wide who worked tirelessly over the past twenty years for the successful implementation of the Program, alongside the Sponsors themselves, without whose generosity this program could not exist. During her speech, the Chairlady stressed the importance of this Program’s natural progression into its present calling, the ARS “Orphans Education Fund”, supported by the Sponsors.
A quality artistic program followed, performed by a number of Homeland artists, highlighted by youngsters’ song and dance groups. This distinguished program included the rendition of patriotic songs, which generated an unprecedented enthusiasm and delight in the audience.
The ARS “Sponsor-A-Child” Program had its start in the year 1992. Over two decades, 7,428 children (1,261 of them bereft of both parents, 6,152 fatherless orphans of martyred freedom fighters) were sponsored by 4,900 individuals. Over the past 20 years, with the dedicated efforts of the global membership of the ARS, up to Sept. 2012, the sum of $5,346,510.00 was transferred to Armenia for this orphan care program.
The Armenian Relief Society, Inc, is a Non-Profit women’s organization, founded in 1910, in New York City, as a sister organization of the ARF. Presently, the Society has functioning entities in 27 different countries with a global membership exceeding 15,000. Since 1988, the ARS is a member of the UN’s Economic and Social Commission (ECOSOC) as an International Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), as well as the UN’s Public Information Department, as an active member.