All-Armenian Fund Raises Big Bucks at Thanksgiving Telethon

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LOS ANGELES — In an annual telethon broadcast from Los Angeles late on Thanksgiving Day, the Yerevan-based Hayastan All-Armenian Fund (Himnadram) sponsored its annual telethon, during which the organization received $12.3 million in pledges. This year, as in last, the funds will be used primarily toward the reconstruction of Nagorno-Karabagh’s water distribution network.

Final figures may prove to be higher after it completes the tabulation of donation pledges received from Armenians in the United States and elsewhere in the world. “Right now we are ascertaining and processing the whole list of contributors,” Hayastan spokeswoman Hasmik Grigorian said. “I think this work will continue until December.”

Irina Lazarian, the executive director of Armenia Fund USA, said she was happy with the telethon. “It went pretty well. Compared to last year, we did better.”

She said there will be a dinner in Moscow on December 21, which is expected to raise large sums again, as it did last year. Last year, the telethon raised about $10.2 million, while the dinner raised about $10.6 million.

The telethon, she said, benefits infrastructure development in rural villages in Armenia and Karabagh. The program, she said, will take place as long as Armenia and Karabagh need help. In particular, she said, Karabagh cannot get help from any international organization, as “many organizations prefer not to support an unrecognized territory.”

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“According to our estimates, about 27,000 people have had running water since then,” said Grigorian. “But there are tens of thousands of others who still have problems with access to drinking water.”

“If we take into account the fact that the sum raised at the latest telethon does not include the results of the [upcoming] gala, then we can conclude that it exceeds the result of last year’s telethon by $2 million,” said Grigorian.

Hayastan raised a record-high $35 million in 2008. Moscow-based businessman Samvel Karapetian donated $15 million of that. Karabagh has been the main beneficiary of almost $216 million worth of development projects financed by Hayastan since 1992. That included the construction of about 500 kilometers of roads, hundreds of apartments and houses and dozens of schools, kindergartens and healthcare centers.

The Himnadram was created in March 1992, with the support of the government, in order to bring aid to the desperately poor new republic soon after its independence. Armenia Fund USA is the organization’s first affiliate. Today it has 22 affiliates around the world.

To send a donation, write to Armenia Fund USA Inc., 80 Maiden Lane, Suite 301, New York, NY 10038 or info@armeniafundusa.org.

(Material from Radio Free Europe was used in this story. Additional reporting was done by Alin K. Gregorian