NEW YORK — “Every time I saw a suffering child in Armenia, it reminded me of 1915,” said Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, who is credited with being a founding member of the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) Children’s Center in Yerevan. The year was 2000, and the center, then designated for Armenia’s most vulnerable children, was in deplorable condition. Now, 12 years later, the center is a safe, protective and compassionate home for abused, abandoned, poverty-stricken children under the sponsor- ship of FAR, and managed and run by a devot- ed and professional staff. In its 12-year record, it has helped 9,000 children.
On Friday, May 18, the Friends of the FAR Children’s Center held a gala banquet at the Kavookjian Hall of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America to honor this institution and the thousands of children who have benefited from its dedication. Among the guests attend- ing were Primate of the Armenian Diocese (Eastern) and FAR Board of Directors President Archbishop Khajag Barsamian; Diocesan Legate in Washington, DC, and FAR Board member Aykazian; Armenia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Garen Nazarian; FAR Board Chairman Randy Sapah-Gulian; FAR Board Vice Chairpersons Dr. Edgar M. Housepian and Prof. Annette Choolfaian; FAR Friends Honorary Chair Sirvart Hovnanian and Director of the FAR Children’s Center Dr. Mira Antonyan, who had traveled from Armenia for the occasion.
One Child at a Time
Following the invocation by Aykazian, Sapah- Gulian as master of ceremonies, welcomed the more than 200 attendees who sat at tables dec- orated with unique centerpieces — lollipops fea- turing the smiling faces of the center’s children. He paid special tribute to Sirvart Hovnanian, wife of the late entrepreneur and benefactor Kevork Hovnanian, who with Archbishop Torkom Manoogian and Housepian, founded FAR. And he expressed deep apprecia- tion to Edward and Janet Mardigian who donat- ed $2 million in support of the FAR Edward and Helen Mardigian Child Protection Foundation.
Silva Torosian (with Nadia Gharibian) as the co-chair of the Friends of the FAR Children’s Center, in her greetings, called the evening a “celebration” of these children and the center “that is fighting to have them lead a normal life, one child at a time.”