Fr. Aram Mirzoyan

By Eva Medzorian

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

WINCHESTER, Mass. and BERD, Armenia — I wanted to evaluate the Velvet Revolution which took place in Armenia in 2018, so I again traveled far beyond my Winchester home, through the mountains and oceans and into the arms of my ancestral Armenian homeland towards Armenia’s Tavush Marz (province) on the northeastern border with Azerbaijan.

Restore Christian Faith

It is very important to note that on September 2014 in the Berd Tavush region, the majestic St. Hovhanness Church was consecrated thanks to the estate of benefactor John Stephens, Fresno, and architect Artak Ghulyan. After nearly a century of loss the people’s faith has been restored.

Fr. Aram Mirzoyan is the heart and soul, not only for this Church but for the whole community. He provided the great momentum which was sorely needed. I have witnessed how in any emergency situation, Mirzoyan will reach out to his people when they need him and help solve the problem. The people dearly love him, his wonderful wife Armine, and three active young boys. He is not only a spiritual leader for these last six years but also a great community leader.

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I arrived just in time to attend the moving April 14 Palm Sunday service at the St. Hovhanness Church in Berd officiated by Rev. Mirzoyan. After church my attention became focused on 5 young soldiers. I was impressed by their quiet dignity and ventured to speak to them. I found that they came from regions in Yerevan, Echmiadzin, Vanadzor and Ardashat and were very proud and happy to serve their Armenian army to protect their borders from Azerbaijani aggression. My conversation with them was warm and engaging, and in a very short time we became very good friends.

Eva Medzorian and young soldiers in Tavush

 A New Mayor

After the many years of mismanagement which Berd has suffered through, I am very happy to say that Berd is now on the right track! Mayor Harutyuyn Manucharyan is a humanitarian and a successful hands on businessman with vision. He has personally taken on the huge challenge to rebuild a whole new community here. He knew exactly what had to be done, and made it happen. He took the broken streets and shanties and is continuing to rebuild and clean up the streets and stores, to make it safe and beautiful for all the people who now love and trust him. Rescued from abject misery, decay and corruption, the people of Berd are now enjoying their liberation.

A New Governor

The newly appointed governor of Tavush Province, Hayk Chobanyan, is a very successful businessman, experienced with business strategy, product management, marketing and e-commerce. He believes in justice, honor and dignity for his people and also demands it from the people that work for him. He works night and day so that his people can live through the terrifying dangers which constantly followed them.

The good news is that he has started a new movement named, Veradarts Toon, which translated means “Return Home.” Ter Aram and I met with him in Ijevan, the Tavush Marz Capital city. It was thrilling for me to hear the Governor describe his new project to help the poor and destitute Armenian families with young children who are now stranded in Russia and other countries to return home to Armenia where they will then be given free housing and work focused specifically in the Tavush Berd region.

Governor of Tavush Province, Hayk Chobanyan with Eva Medzorian

Veradarts Toon, Return Home

I was the first person to take part in the Veradarts Toon project, thanks to Ter Aram. A family from Moscow has been given ownership of a house and wage paying jobs. Their house is located in a picturesque setting of hills and mountains, where a winding dirt road takes you up to a ridge, and then, a magnificent view opens up! It was touching for me to see how warm and caring their neighbors are to them. The new-comers include a young wife and husband, two young children, and a puppy. The children are attending a local school. Their house has one room which includes 3 beds in very close quarters. I was happy to see that there was ample room for expansion. The wife had been doing all of her laundry by hand so I bought her a washing machine with lots of soap which made her happy. The setting looked like it could have been the 1920’s. Husband and wife are paid for their work in the nearby fields. They had returned to Armenia with only the clothes on their backs.

Youth in Charge

Yerevan: It was a chilly night with light rain. The birthday party for 38-year-old Arman Hayrapetyan who works in Ijevan’s Tumo Center started at 7 p.m. and lasted until midnight. Ter Aram and I were invited to attend this fundraising birthday party to help aid three similar projects to Veradarts Toon Srpazan Bagrat drove a very long way from Ijevan to support the young peoples’ effort. It was impressive to see how much love and respect the youth had developed for him. In the entrance way, 3 large empty glass jugs labeled with 3 similar projects sat on the counter waiting to be chosen by the guests for support re the Veradarts Doon/Return Home’ projects. The party was organized in a large, local grand Cafe in the heart of the city of Yerevan. What made this project so special was that it was totally planned and executed by the youth. It looked like it could have taken place anywhere in Harvard Square. I was surprised to see even little babies present. It was great to see how well families and youth enjoyed one another. Everything was donated. There was plenty of wine from Berd, fancy tea biscuits, and warm friendliness which led to an open mike for one and all. A few people sang songs they had written while others brought their musical instruments and played / improvised music. I could see that the youth had enthusiastically now fully taken charge. Their focus was to create more interesting ways to encourage fund raising successes for Veradarts Toon-type projects to aid all of the many families who want to return home, regardless of what country they are stranded.

I sensed a camaraderie. You could hear, see and feel it. The words and music of Komitas Vartabed describe it best for me. Translated into English in part he stated, “Armenia, a country like paradise. You are the cradle of civilization. You are my precious homeland. Hayastan.”

(Eva Medzorian is founding president of the Armenian International Women’s Association, as well as a longtime former member of the board of the Cambridge Yerevan Sister City Association and is a current member of the Daughters of Vartan. She and her husband, Jack, visit Armenia often.)

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