Evans introduced Kristof, the recipient of the 2008 Save a Generation Humanitarian Award. Evans said he was thrilled when Armen asked him to introduce Kristof. “I have been a longtime careful reader of Kristof. I didn’t know he was Armenian. I just knew that he was damn good at what he did,” said Evans. “Tonight, the Children of Armenia Fund, with profound admiration, gratitude and humility honors Kristof.”
Accepting his award, Kristof said he was moved by Evans’ words and praised him for showing the courage to raise the issue of the Armenian Genocide. “His career suffered for it, but if we can’t begin to address the truth of the Armenian Genocide, then we can’t address the truth of Genocide today so we owe you a huge thanks,” said Kristof.
Kristof said that modest assistance can transform people’s lives and Armenia is growing very quickly. “COAF is following a formula that has worked in Armenia. Thank you I salute you for what you’re doing,” said Kristof.
In an exclusive statement to the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, before receiving his award, Kristof said he was flattered to receive the award. “I admire the bottom-up approach the fund takes and as someone who is part Armenian I appreciate what it does for Armenia and its people.”
For the last part of the program, Armen gave a historical perspective on COAF’s efforts since its inception, and an update on their accomplishments in two Armenian villages, Karakert and Lernagog. He explained that the villages in Armenia used to be subsidized by the Soviets, but since the collapse of the Soviet Union, these villages have faced tremendous despair. When Armen went to the Armavir region of Armenia in 2003, he was told it was the “hopeless of the hopeless.” Nevertheless he undertook the seemingly impossible challenge of turning around the villages in the region, which had no electricity, gas and scarcity of water.
In Karakert, COAF built a public park, reconstructed buildings, and in 2004 created a strategic plan to help the economy in this region. Partnering with World Bank, COAF was able to repair the irrigation system of Karakert, which has improved farming. As more and more villages began to turn to COAF for help, the organization decided to start a “cluster project” and reach out to other villages, following the same formula. Armen noted that Paul Newman’s foundation has helped COAF greatly, and a total of nine villages have benefited from COAF.
“We provided them with the tools and the knowledge and the rest they do themselves,” said Dr. Armen, stressing that they have created a formula which can be replicated and done over and over again. “By helping others we can make the world a better and stable place.”