THE JOY AND APPRECIATION REFLECTED ON THE FACES OF OUR PEOPLE ARE SUFFICIENT "MOVING FORCE"
Executive Publisher / Managing Editor
USA Armenian Life Magazine
On November 26 Thanksgiving Day, Armenia Fund will host a worldwide
international telethon to reach Armenian and non-Armenian audiences
across the globe through cable, satellite, and internet networks.
This 12th annual telethon is the continuation of a tradition that is
fueled by the unrelenting support and solidarity by Armenia-Artsakh’s
Recently, Appo Jabarian, Executive Publisher and Managing Editor of
USA Armenian Life Magazine, held an interview with Ara Aghishian,
the Armenian Fund’s Western Region affiliate’s President.
Mr. Aghishian was unanimously elected by the Corporate Board of
Armenia Fund to the post of Chairman/ President on Thursday, March 26,
2009. He has been Vice President of the Fund since 2001.
Below is the text of the interview:
USA Armenian Life Magazine: Recently several major Armenian-American
organizations in the Western U.S. have made a joint appeal to their
members to be in solidarity with the upcoming Armenia Fund Telethon
’09. How do evaluate that action?
Ara Aghishian/Armenia Fund:The Joint Appeal signed by the major
Armenian organizations is a reflection on how united and unified we
can be when it comes to helping our brothers and sisters in Armenia
and Artsakh. I view it as a sharing of unity among all sectors of the
Armenian Community in the Diaspora, to show to the world, once again,
that we are United and we stand behind our people in the Homeland.
USA Armenian Life: Why is Shushi the main objective for Armenia Fund’s
Ara Aghishian: Historically, Shushi was a key City playing important
civic, cultural, economic, and social role in Artsakh. Today, the
Board of Trustees of "Hayastan" All Armenian Fund decided that it
is time to start the rehabilitation and re-structuring/re-building
this important city, by providing drinking water systems, re-building
hospitals, schools and other infrastructure necessities.
USA Armenian Life: Does Shushi Project serve certain long-term economic
plans for Armenia-Artsakh?
Ara Aghishian: Shushi project is a long term project, but we have to
start somewhere. By making Shushi the theme of Telethon "09, we are
embarking upon a project which, in time, will create significant job
opportunities and will enhance the lives of the people, which will
have tremendous positive economic impact overall.
USA Armenian Life: What’s the fundraising target for Armenia Fund’s
Ara Aghishian: There are no "dollar figure" targets for any
Telethons, past, present or future. We are hopeful that Armenians
and non-Armenians will join forces and come together on Thanksgiving
Day and actively participate by donating whatever they can to this
I will not accept the "economic crisis" as an excuse to turn our back
to the people of Armenia and Artsakh. I think if we have continued our
life styles, continued our travels and extracurricular activities,
during these "tough economic times", we can certainly donate to
Armenian Fund during the Telethon of 2009.
USA Armenian Life: It was learned that there has been a pledge
from Samvel Karapetyan of Yerevan. Can you please elaborate on that
impressive donation, and for what purpose/project(s) the proceeds
are going to be devoted?
Ara Aghishian: Mr. Samvel Karapetyan has made significant donations
to Armenia and Artsakh, and he did this year also during the Gala
recently held in Moscow. The amount of his donation and its purpose
will be revealed during the Telethon.
USA Armenian Life: What percent of last year’s Western U.S. pledges
Ara Aghishian: As far as the Western U.S. pledges are concerned,
I can comfortably say that more than 90% of last years’ pledges have
USA Armenian Life: How would you respond to those who question the
verifiability of the accounting of the Armenia Fund?
Ara Aghishian: I welcome those questioning the accounting to either go
"on line" and access the official filings/Tax Returns of Armenian Fund,
also review the Annual Financial Report which is also available,
and the audited report of Grant Thornton is also available as it
relates to the international accounting of Armenia Fund.
USA Armenian Life: To what extent was last year’s Telethon proceeds
have impacted the quality of life in Armenia’s rural areas and
Ara Aghishian: When I was in Armenia in May of 2009, this year,
we visited the projects implemented and completed by Armenia Fund,
as well as the projects that are still in progress. The conversations
we had with the people who now have drinking water, gas, new schools,
hospitals, clinics, were very touching as to how their day-to-day
lives have improved tremendously through the projects done by Armenia
Fund. The joy and appreciation reflected on their faces are sufficient
"moving force" to encourage us to continue this most valuable endeavor,
to improve the lives of our people in Armenia and Artsakh.