BY MARIAM NERSES
Visiting the Armenian Lighthouse Charitable Foundation was a very heartwarming experience. Zuhrab and Seta Ghazarian founded the shelter to provide and protect women and children that have been victims of domestic violence.
Women from all over Armenia, Georgia, and even Egypt have received help here. They offer two year programs to help support single women raise their children. During this two year program, women are not only taken care of, but simultaneously receive vocational training and counseling in order to help them find a job after leaving the shelter. Skills include sewing, crocheting, hair styling, doing nails, and more.
I was especially touched by how deeply caring and kind the founders are to all women seeking refuge at the shelter. While speaking with a volunteer from California who helps at the shelter during the summer, she emphasized the shelter’s primary goal is to provide women the necessary tools and support for rehabilitation. After the trauma many of these women have endured, the shelter functions on the belief that these women deserve the best care possible.
With a doctor, dentist, and psychologist volunteering weekly with the women, the shelter’s main goal promotes the ultimate well-being of the women there. As a woman, I very much appreciated learning about what this shelter has done and continues to do for so many. I am thankful we were invited to visit this shelter with open arms.
Alongside their mission to help victims of domestic violence, the ALCF also enters communities each week to assist the elderly in need of food. When we visited the shelter today, we were put in charge of the “Feed the Elders” program luncheon serving and cleaning after the elders that were there that day; they were given a warm lunch and later dessert.
Although it was saddening, I was extremely touched by the gratefulness they showed and most importantly, I was so happy to witness the shelter’s generosity making such a massive change. Additionally, as I plan to pursue a career as a lawyer and am interested in defending victims of domestic abuse, this visit especially meant a lot to me.
For such an amazing program to exist for these women, who feel they have no one to turn to, gives me hope that Armenia is moving in the right direction for social justice. I feel that many individuals focus on economic change in the homeland, but for that to happen, there needs to be a social movement that promotes a better life for the women living here. And I believe this program is doing just that.