Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte

Gift Boxes Continue Their Journey to Ser Artsakh

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“To honor and support the heroic, inspiring, and strong people of Artsakh who choose to raise future generations in their Homeland”

This is the motto of the “Ser Artsakh” charity program initiated by the Anna Astvatsaturian Foundation: to bring love to all those Artsakh families living in such difficult conditions.

All the items included in the gift boxes that are provided to the mothers of Artsakh in the framework of the “Ser Artsakh” Program: onesies, pajama sets, sleeping sacks, towels and blankets, health care essentials (diapers, wipes, baby shampoo, thermometer and pacifier), as well as maternity hygiene necessities for the new mother, custom-made soft baby book and a wooden wheeled toy are made in Armenia or Artsakh.  In Artsakh, they are carefully packaged and delivered to maternity hospitals right in time for the next baby to be born.

There are three maternity hospitals in Artsakh: Martakert, Martuni and Stepanakert. Since the launch of the program, 161 children, 10 of them in Martakert, 6 in Martuni, have received their gift-boxes. Among the newborns were 2 sets of twins, a pair of beautiful sisters and a pair of brothers with their grandfather’s strength in the veins.

Victoria is one of the most common names: parents hope that the choice of the child’s name will be decisive in the fate of both the child and Artsakh.

“The news about the donation of 18 boxes in one day made me very happy. When mothers told me how helpful these items are for them to raise these babies that was the moment when I realized how important for the diaspora to keep donating to maintain the continuity of this project,” said Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte, president of the “Anna Astvatsaturian” Foundation, and added, “Despite my childhood of a refugee from Baku, I was taught by my parents to always work toward more out of life. With this project, I choose to do the same in Artsakh. Armenian children and their future are my constant focus and I will never stop expecting and working toward a better future for them.”

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An individualized approach is taken with each mother. Working with Ministry of Health of Artsakh the Foundation is aware when these mothers will be checking out of the hospital. It is important to the Foundation that no baby leaves the hospital without receiving a gift box.

“Mothers always accept the gift with gratitude. Many are even waiting for our gift boxes. There was a case when a pregnant woman contacted us and informed that her child will be born in a few months. She asked us not to forget about her baby and to visit her with a box as well,” Armine Vardanyan, representative of the Anna Astvatsaturian Foundation in Artsakh, recalls with a smile.

Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte is an American-Armenian writer, philanthropist, lawyer, elected official, president of the Westbrook City council and the president of her eponymous foundation. She also is the author of the book Nowhere, a Story of Exile, based on her diaries which she wrote as an 11-year-old escaping the Baku massacres. In 2013 Anna spearheaded a successful recognition of Artsakh at the state of Maine legislature. Since then she has implemented a number of charitable programs in Armenia and Artsakh. One of her foundation’s major projects is the “Artsakh War 2020: Losses, Challenges – Opportunities for resistance development’’ survey conducted after the 44-day war.

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