Knights of Vartan Ani Lodge Sponsors HALO Trust Fundraiser in Washington

0
0

WASHINGTON —For the past five years, the Knights of Vartan (KOV) Ani lodge has been an annual contributor to the HALO Trust and on February 24, Andrew Moore, HALO Trust Desk Officer for Balkans and Caucasus, spoke about the work that HALO Trust has done to clear land mines near villages and in agricultural land in Artsakh.
The presentation was sponsored by the KOV Ani Lodge and Daughters of Vartan Dikranouhi Otyag and hosted by St. Mary Armenian Church in Washington, DC. Jake Bournazian, Commander of KOV Ani Lodge, Rev. Hovsep Karapetyan of St. Mary Armenian Church, and Robert Avetisyan, US Representative of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic, gave welcoming remarks. Staff from Landmine Free Artsakh (http://LandmineFreeArtsakh.com), a group of concerned Armenians who have volunteered at HALO Trust, also gave a presentation about their projects to clear remaining land mines and unexploded ordnance from Artsakh.
After 20 years, 86 percent of the minefields and 63 percent of cluster munitions strikes in Artsakh have been cleared by HALO. In addition to HALO’s success in reducing Artsakh’s mine and ordnance accident rates, more than 4,200 hectares of previously mined land have been restored to productive agricultural use. However, resources are still needed to clear the remaining minefields. Today, Artsakh has the highest per capita civilian casualty rate from land mine accidents in the world with a quarter of these victims being children.
The KOV Ani Lodge fundraiser collected $3,800 in donations for the HALO Trust. The salary of one worker clearing mines in Artsakh is $550 per month, thus the KOV Ani Lodge efforts helped raise enough funds to pay the salaries of seven workers this month. These funds will be used to help clear a minefield in Govshatly Village, Hadrut Region, where mines threaten families as they try to earn a living from their land. To date, HALO has found and destroyed over 69,750 landmines and other UXO to enable families in Artsakh to rebuild their lives. Where they have cleared minefields and battlefields, farmers are now planting their crops, homes and roads are being rebuilt, and children walk to school, secure in the knowledge that their steps will be safe ones.
“This was a spontaneous and highly successful event, sparked by one brother sending an email from California to the other commanders starting a chain reaction,” stated Ani Lodge Commander Jake Bournazian. “This is an accomplishment we can all be proud of as a Lodge and Otyag, and it shows how the Knights and Daughters of Vartan help save lives and work to build a safer and stronger Armenia,” Bournazian said.

Get the Mirror in your inbox:
Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: