BURBANK, CA–Members from AYF chapters in Glendale and Burbank on December 18 volunteered with the Armenian Relief Society to prepare for a much-anticipated holiday fundraiser dedicated to helping the children of Javakhk.
“We are always happy to help the Armenian Relief Society since their humanitarian effort helps Armenians most in need, be that in Armenia or the Diaspora,” said Nanor Aghamalian, a member of the Glendale AYF ‘Roupen’ chapter.” It is the duty of the youth to help our brothers and sisters in every corner of the world whenever that help is needed.”
The fundraiser, known as the “Javakhk Piggy Bank Drive,” is organized every Christmas season by the ARS Javakhk Fund. The campaign mobilizes school children from local Armenian schools to raise money for the organization’s various humanitarian and youth-oriented projects in Javakhk,
“The Piggy Bank Project’s aims are two-fold,” explained Haigoush Kohler, the chairperson of the ARS Javakhk Fund Committee.”Other than the aim to raise money to provide humanitarian assistance in the region, the program also seeks to help educate our youth, those attending Armenian day and Saturday schools, about the needs of the children living in Javakhk.”
“AYF members continue to volunteer for this program and we are thankful that parents and school administrators have been supportive of the drive and take their responsibility seriously,” she added.
A predominantly Armenian region located in Southern Georgia, Javakhk is home to tens of thousands of Armenians. Today, it is the most underdeveloped and impoverished region in the country, with the highest rate of unemployment and the lowest rate of state investment.
Javakhk is a geographic, economic and political island, almost cut off from the rest of the world.
“Javakhk is the last piece of our historic homeland outside of the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh that is still populated by Armenians. It is imperative to prevent their exodus,” another Glendale AYF member, David Arakelyan, noted. “The Armenians worldwide need to work together to create better living conditions in the area so that the people do not leave Javakhk.”
The ARS Javakhk Fund Committee works in the Javakhk, Tsalka, Akhaltskha, Ninotsminda, and Akhalkalak regions of Georgia to renovate and repair not only local schools and youth centers, but also clinics in need of care. With many projects already underway–the Fund also provides the clinics with necessary supplies on a year-round basis.
The Fund has also repaved roads and renovated water and electricity systems in Javakhk to compensate for the region’s non-existent infrastructure and its primitive agriculture and local industry.
Alongside regular drives and fundraisers for Javakhk, the Fund also holds an annual fundraiser cruise. Last year’s cruise raised almost $60,000 in humanitarian assistance to the Armenians of Javakhk.
Over the summer, the AYF worked with the Fund to organize a photo-exhibition and sale, displaying original photos by Tamar Yerdamian Baboujian, who had visited Javakhk and chronicled the everyday life of its people. The event’s goal was to raise $6,000 to purchase two cars for the Javakhk Armenian youth organization, which has faced difficulty in organizing activities in Armenia over the years due to a lack of transportation. The photo exhibit is ongoing and interested donors can firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The AYF has always considered helping the motherland as a top priority,” said Shahan Boghigian, an AYF member from the Burbank ‘Varak’ chapter, who volunteered that evening. “Providing the youth in Javakh an opportunity to visit Armenia is an important way of ensuring that the future generation of Armenians in that region will retain their connection with the homeland and work with the rest of the nation to help us achieve our mutual goals.”