BILLERICA, Mass. — A little effort going a very long way is being seen in the tiny Armenian village of Arpunq, thanks in part to the financial generosity of the late Ararat Asbed Robert “Bob” Semonian from Ararat Lodge No. 1. A $10,000 donation from a trust established by Bob Semonian, who passed away in 2016, is being used to help bring pristine running water to a remote village near the southern shores of Lake Sevan, replacing on old, inoperative Soviet era asbestos pipe.
Arpunq has some 120 homes with a population of about 660 people. The project was spearheaded by Asbed John Peterson of Ararat Lodge No. 1 and Clayton Carlisle, both members of the Billerica, Massachusetts Rotary Club. They both addressed the members of Ararat Lodge No. 1 and Arpie Otyag No. 9 at their January 14 dinner in Watertown. It is the Billerica Rotary Club that requested and received a Global Grant from Rotary International for the project, whose total cost is $52,000.
Asbed John Peterson, of the Billerica Rotary Club approached Asbed Leon Semonian, co- trustee of his brother Bob’s estate, along with Paul Semonian, Bob’s nephew, for assistance. They agreed to donate $10,000 of the $17,000 local contribution required by Rotary International, which triggered the Rotary’s matching contribution to complete funding for the project.
The pipeline is the only source of water for the village, running some two and a half miles both above and below ground. It feeds water faucets that are located outside of the modest homes. There is no indoor plumbing in Arpunq, which means that all toilet facilities are also outdoors in the form of outhouses. Other uses for the grant money include roofing of the local school, family bedding at a cost of $50 per bed, and bee hives for a number of families.
At the January Knights and Daughters dinner, Asbed Leon Semonian was honored for his generosity by Lodge and Otyag members as well as Asbed and Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian and David Muradian, Republican of the Massachusetts State House of Representatives.
Koutoujian thanked Leon and Paul Semonian for their generosity and then presented Leon with a proclamation from his department, acknowledging their philanthropy.