ARS Join Together to Commemorate ARS Armenia’s 15th Anniversary

PRESS RELEASE
ARMENIAN RELIEF SOCIETY,INC
Hamesd Beugekian
80 Bigelow Avenue
Watertown MA, 02427
Tel: 617-926 5892
Fax: 617-926 4855
E-mail: [email protected]

ARS Members Worldwide Join Together
to Commemorate
ARS Armenia’s 15th Anniversary

Event Coincides with the 3rd Republic’s Anniversary Celebrations

Members and supporters of the Armenian Relief Society recently concluded
a two week celebration of the ARS Armenia region’s 15th anniversary of
operation within the Homeland and joined their compatriots to
commemorate the coinciding 15th anniversary of the 3rd Republic of
Armenia.

Commemorative tours, celebrations, and visitations and a day long
conference dominated the Sept. 15-27 celebration. Activities were based
in Yerevan and included visits to Artsakh and Javakhq.

Months in the planning, the tour and anniversary celebration were held
under the auspices of the ARS, Inc. international Central Executive
Board. ARS members and friends attended from the United States,
Canada, France, Argentina, Australia, Italy, Germany, Lebanon, Syria,
England, Cyprus, Greece, Javakhq, Artsakh, and Armenia.

At the same time, the nine members ARS Central Executive Board (CEB)
held a full Board meeting, focusing particularly on its programs within
Armenia, Artsakh, and Javakhk. The ARS CEB and ARS members and
supporters were also present at the Sept. 18-20 Third Armenia-Diaspora
Conference sponsored by the Republic of Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign
Affairs where CEB Chairwoman Hasmig Derderian presented the ARS’s
message to the hundreds of attending representatives and observers.

The ARS Armenia 15th anniversary commemorative activities were organized
by the ARS Armenia Regional Executive Board. A description of the
highlights of the two week ARS celebration follows.

Tour of Armenia’s Historical Sites and Special Events

Members of the ARS 15th anniversary celebration tour were treated to
visits around Armenia, giving the first time visitor a superb overall
view of the country and keeping the repeat visitor interested and awed.
The tour was organized by Menua Tours of Yerevan.

The tour began on Sept. 15 with a visit to Yerablur, Soseh Mairik’s
tomb, Yerebuni, and a driving tour of Yerevan. On Sept. 17, tourists
visited Ejmiatzin cathedral and monastery in the morning and Sardarabad
and its museum in the afternoon. The day concluded at the Sundukian
Theater with the performance of "Yes mi Tzar em Tzirani," by former ARS
CEB member and ARS Armenian Regional Executive Chairperson Alvard
Petrosyan. Garni’s 2nd century pagan temple and Geghard’s ancient
monastery were on the agenda for Sept. 18, along with visits to three
schools sponsored by the ARS for children with developmental
disabilities.

On Sept. 20, the ARS tour group visited Ashtarak, Mughni, Saghmosavanq,
and Amberd, marveling at the ancient architecture. From Sept. 24-27,
tourists were able to visit Artsakh, taking in the ancient historical
sites and visiting ARS sponsored ‘Soseh’ kindergartens in the various
villages throughout the country. The Artsakh trip was followed by a two
day visit to Javakhq, where the ARS group was able to see the fruits of
the Society’s labors in bringing educational, medical, and social
stability to Javakhq’s population in the form of a clinic, offices, and
educational facilities. ARS members were also present for a ribbon
cutting ceremony held on Sept. 25 upon the opening of a long-awaited
youth center in Javakhq.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Unveils New CAT Scan Machine at
ARS Mother and Child Clinic and Birthing Center

On September 16, the ARS group visited the ARS Mother and Child Clinic
and Birthing Center, as well as the ARS Nigol Aghbalian School, both in
Gyumri. ARS CEB members recessed their meeting to visit the former
earthquake-stricken area with the group.

The ARS Nigol Aghbalian School was the first stop, where tour buses were
waved in by students holding bright red, blue and orange papers in the
spirit of the coming Sept. 21 15th anniversary Independence Day
celebrations. School Principal Khanum Babigian greeted the visitors and
directed students in singing and recitations for the crowd. ARS, Inc.
CEB member Shakeh Basmajian offered greetings from the CEB and praised
the schoolteachers and the 300 students for their dedication to learning
and educational improvement.

The next stop was the nearby ARS Mother and Child Clinic and Birthing
Center, where the group toured the maternity ward which opened in April
2005. The state of the art facility has now overseen the births of
nearly 1,500 babies, including one premature week old child in an
incubator who was born at 1 kilo and needed to gain a normal weight of
2.5 kilos before going home.

A highlight of the visit was a red ribbon cutting ceremony to unveil a
new CAT scan machine and newly renovated clinic space dedicated to
scanning and mammography. The CAT scan machine was donated by the
French S.O.S. and arranged by Dr. Samson O.Z. Ararat of France. The
machine is the only CAT scan machine outside of Yerevan and will serve
the entire northern region of Armenia, reaching into Javakhq. There are
only six such machines in Yerevan, a 120 kilometer drive from Gyumri.

"This gift will increase the flow of patients and the quality of care
in the region," said ARS Clinic Executive Director Dr. Sevag Avagian.
The donation will allow the ARS clinic to expand its medical services
and reach more patients in a cost effective manner.

ARS CEB Chairperson Hasmig Derderian and Dr. Ararat shared in the ribbon
cutting duties and happily shook hands to commemorate a new step in
ARS-provided health care in Gyumri and beyond.

The CAT scan machine joins another new addition to the ARS clinic’s
services: an ambulance. Complete with the ARS’s logo, the new ambulance
provides a unique and much needed service to the inhabitants of the
former earthquake region in an area which is second in population only
to Yerevan.

The day ended with a mandatory meeting between the ARS CEB and executive
board representatives from 15 ARS entities, where information and ideas
were exchanged in a spirit of cooperation. A question and answer period
followed between the CEB and the regional and chapter representatives.
The evening concluded with a reception for members hosted by the ARS
Armenia Regional Executive.

The ARS at the Third Armenia-Diaspora Conference

The ARS CEB and ARS members from various entities attended the opening
ceremonies of the Republic of Armenia Ministry of Foreign Affair’s Third
Armenia-Diaspora Conference. The conference was attended by hundreds of
delegates and observers from around the world and held at the Karen
Demirchian Sports Concert Center, Yerevan.

Prominent political parties and non profit organizations were invited to
sit at the round table and offer remarks in the spirit of the conference
topic at hand which focused on revitalizing Armenia’s rural areas in the
coming years to begin a spread of prosperity and stability outside of
central Yerevan.

In her well received remarks, ARS CEB Chairwoman Hasmig Derderian
emphasized the ARS’s plan to contribute to rural revitalization by
replicating its premiere Artsakh Sosseh Kindergarten program and
bringing it to Armenia. Derderian also noted that ARS entities and
members will contribute to the organized Armenia rural revitalization
effort through its participation in community projects around the world.
(See elsewhere in this publication for Derderian’s full remarks).

Visit to ARS Armenia’s New Dilijan Camp

The ARS group stopped to enjoy Lake Sevan and her ancient monasteries on
the way to see the ARS Armenia’s new camp in Dilijan. Dilijan is known
for its restful atmosphere and crystal clean air.

ARS Armenia is planning for the camp to be used by ARS, youth, and other
groups in the coming months as renovations on the camp’s two buildings
are completed. The two buildings include sleeping rooms, a cafeteria,
kitchen, and meeting rooms.

The project was financed by the Republic of Greece’s Hellenic Aid
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Reconstruction of the sanatorium building
was finance by the Greek non-governmental organization, Development
Cooperation & Solidarity (DCS).

The ARS group also visited the 10th century St. Grigor Lusavorich Church
in Dilijan, which is still active. Father Sasun Zunrughian invited the
group to partake of the traditional offering of bread dipped in salt and
proceeded to conduct a short religious ceremony in the St. Astvatzatzin
Church. Dilijan Mayor Armen Santrossian also welcomed the ARS group and
described some of the many highpoints of Dilijan.

The day concluded with a lavish lunch offered by the ARS Dilijan
Chapter, whose Chairperson, Esma Zargarian, welcomed guests to break
bread with her chapter’s members.

"The ARS in the Service of Armenians and Armenia"

To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the ARS’s official presence in
Armenia, the ARS CEB organized a daylong conference, "The ARS in the
Service of Armenians and Armenia." The event was held on Sept. 22 at
the Hotel Marriott Armenia, Yerevan.

The conference opened with remarks by ARS Armenia Regional Executive
Chairwoman Alvard Petrosyan, who is a former ARS CEB member and a member
of the Armenian National Assembly.

Petrosyan welcomed prominent guests who attended the conference and
invited ARS CEB Chairwoman Hasmig Derderian to give the conference
address. Welcoming remarks were offered by Vice Speaker of the Armenian
National Assembly, Vahan Hovhannisyan and UN Children’s Fund Director,
Rights of the Child, Children of Special Needs Program Nayira Avetisyan.
Armenian National Assembly member and Chairman on the Standing
Committee on Foreign Relations Armen Rustamyan spoke on "The World at
Large and the ARS as a Pan-Armenian Organization."

Vehanoush Margaryan, Director of the ARS, Inc. Yerevan Central Office
and Sponsor a Child program and ARS Inc.’s Coordinator of Special
Programs in Armenia, Anna Mnatsakanyan, presented "ARS Achievements in
Armenia." Director of ARS Inc. Health Programs in Armenia, Dr. Sevag
Avagyan, discussed "ARS Health Programs."

The presentations were followed by lunch and a panel discussion on "ARS
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow." ARS CEB secretary Mayda Melkonian
introduced the panel topic and the importance of having a realistic and
open discussion on the issue. ARS CEB member Tamar Der Bedrossian
introduced the panelists and moderated the subsequent discussion.
Former ARS CEB Chairwoman Vanouhi Issadjanian spoke on "The ARS
Yesterday;" Nanor Hreshdakian of the ARS Syria region spoke on "The ARS
Today;" and Lilit Hovhanisyan of the ARS Armenia region and Nyree
Derderian of the ARS Western USA region spoke on "The ARS Tomorrow."

Issadjanian described the ARS’s role in the history of Armenia and the
Armenian people from its establishment in 1910. "It’s impossible to
understand the present or future without knowing the past," she noted.

Hreshdakian added, "There are organizations that have existed for a
short time and organ-izations that are founded and thrive in the
community that last." Reflecting on the Third Armenia-Diaspora
Conference held earlier in the week, Hreshdakian observed, "The ARS is
an excellent example of an organization that works together in the
Diaspora and in the Homeland."

Hovhanisyan focused on the important ARS work that young people are
fueling in Armenia today, including issues focused on the human
trafficking of women and children. Derderian introduced bold ideas for
shaking up the ARS, including one set of uniform bylaws throughout the
ARS’s and consideration of an elected, but paid, chief executive
officer, similar to an organizational structure used by some nonprofit
organizations in the West.

The panel discussion was lively, as was the question and answer
discussion which followed. Conference attendees discussed interaction
among the generations, the process of implementing new ideas to attract
new members, and the roadblocks members sometimes encounter when they
propose bold, but untested methods to the Society. The conference was
inspired by the testimonials of young ARS leaders in Armenia. The
conference ended with the presentation of gifts from the ARS CEB to the
four panelists.

15th Anniversary Events Hosted by ARS Armenia

The ARS Armenia Regional Executive hosted a 15th anniversary gala dinner
on Sept. 22 and 15th anniversary concert on Sept. 23. The events were
attended by political dignitaries and guests.

The gala dinner was held at Bellagio Restaurant and was an evening
filled with food, music, and dancing. A raffle was held to benefit the
ARS Armenia and the night concluded with the singing of patriotic songs.

The concert was held at Sundukian Theater and was hosted by ARS Armenia
Regional Executive Chairwoman Alvard Petrosyan. Present were Armenia’s
First Lady, Dr. Bella Kocharian and Baroness Caroline Cox.

Congratulatory remarks were offered by ARF Bureau Chairman, Hrand
Margaryan, Armenian National Assembly President, Tigran Torosian,
Armenia Fund Executive Director, Naira Melcumyan, ARS Artsakh Chapter
Chairperson, Nelly Choulian, ARS Javakhk Chapter Chairwoman, Garineh
Tatevosian, and ARS CEB Chairperson, Hasmig Derderian.

A powerful film was shown of the ARS Armenia’s tumultuous first15 years,
documenting the Society’s active role in providing aid to the 1988
earthquake victims, giving medical care to those who were wound-ed or
fell in the battle for Artsakh, donating resources for the building of
medical and educational facilities, and supporting social and
educational programs for the betterment of Armenia’s men, women and
children.

A musical program followed, combining the joy of the ARS Armenia’s 15th
anniversary with the joy of the Republic of Armenia’s same 15-year
milestone. Singer Shushan Petrosian and Aved Parseghyan introduced the
entertainers who included Petrosyan herself, as well as Mikayel
Boghosyan, Armen Movsisyan, Layla Saribekyan, Hasmig Karapetian, David
Amalyan, and Aida Sarksyan and dance group "Agoonk." It was an
emotional and inspiring night of remembrance for the ARS’s past
contributions to the Republic’s first years and a night of hope for all
that the ARS plans to bring for Armenia’s future.

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The ARS is the oldest continuing women’s organization in the world.
Learn more about the ARS or how to make a donation to help the Society
continue its important work by visiting , calling (617)
926-5892,or emailing [email protected]
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