From left to right Linda Haddad, Gevorg Martirosyan and another volunteer Céline Terzian volunteering for Traveling Doctors

Bridges of Service Helps Diaspora Armenians Contribute to Homeland Resilience at Critical Time

143
0

YEREVAN — The fabric of Armenia’s societal and cultural landscape is richly woven with the threads of its diaspora, individuals scattered across the globe yet united by a common heritage and, for many, a deep-seated desire to contribute to the well-being of their homeland. In these pivotal times, as Armenia and the Armenian nation find themselves at a critical juncture, facing numerous challenges that test their resilience and unity, the role of the diaspora becomes ever more crucial.

The Armenian Volunteer Corps (AVC) serves as a vital conduit for this desire, facilitating a bridge back to Armenia for those yearning to reconnect through service. Within this context emerge the stories of three volunteers — Gevorg Martirosyan, Brigitta Davidjants and Linda Haddad. Through their dedication, resilience and sense of duty, these volunteers exemplify the significant role the diaspora plays in shaping Armenia’s future, painting a vivid narrative of hope, contribution, and interconnectedness.

Amidst the ongoing humanitarian crises following the ethnic cleansing of Artsakh’s native Armenian population, American-Armenian Gevorg Martirosyan, 33, who holds a doctorate in pharmacy and an MBA, found himself drawn to Armenia with a purpose that transcended mere assistance. His placement, working with Traveling Doctors, provided immediate relief and helped put down the foundations for enduring healthcare resilience. Martirosyan embarked on this endeavor in late 2023, armed with four suitcases filled with medical supplies which were then meticulously transformed into 100 first aid kits and distributed to families displaced from Artsakh.

The heart of his work, however, was in his role as an educator. Over the span of his stay, he trained more than 140 medical professionals across Yerevan and Gyumri. These sessions were carefully planned and executed to ensure the highest impact, catering to a diverse audience that included ambulance doctors, emergency medicine residents, and pediatric nurses, among others.

Martirosyan’s involvement also extended to strategic consultations for Traveling Doctors, where he advised on organizational structure, team expansion, and effective branding.

Personally, for him, his engagement in an International Volunteer Day event, where he mentored youth through the Children of Regions NGO, stands out as his most cherished accomplishment. Witnessing the demotivation among young men from various regions, particularly concerning their impending military service, struck a chord with him.

Get the Mirror in your inbox:

“I hoped to open their eyes to the realities and opportunities within Armenia, countering the notion that prospects are invariably better abroad,” he reflects.

Brigitta Davidjants discovering Armenia

Brigitta Davidjants, who holds a doctorate in musicology from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, came to Armenia with her partner and three children. She embarked on a unique journey, driven by a dual mission of exploring her heritage and utilizing her academic and journalistic skills to foster understanding and advocate for Armenia’s complex socio-political landscape. Her engagement through AVC was a professional endeavor and a personal quest to bridge the gap between her Armenian identity and her life in Estonia. “Like many other diasporan Armenians, coming to Armenia, I wondered if I could be helpful in the current situation,” she says.

Placed with CivilNet, a prominent Armenian online television and media platform, Davidjants contributed articles on Armenian-Estonian relations, the Armenian Genocide and the Armenian diaspora in Estonia. Beyond CivilNet, Brigitta’s engagement with Rerooted offered her a chance to document the harrowing experiences of refugees who had escaped Baku. This work involved conducting in-depth interviews and transforming these conversations into compelling narratives that shed light on the human cost of conflict.

Her time in Armenia was not without its challenges. Balancing her professional commitments with her role as a mother and partner, she navigated the complexities of living and working in a new environment. Throughout her stay, Davtjants built a network among local journalists; this network, she believes, will be instrumental in her continued efforts to advocate for Armenia and bring its stories to a broader audience.

Linda Haddad, a management professional originally from Lebanon and now living in Italy, exemplifies the impact that strategic thinking and a deep commitment to Armenia can have through volunteerism. Her journey with the AVC leveraged her background in project management, strategy, finance, process optimization and marketing to make a tangible difference. “Watching the recent events unfold from afar was nothing short of devastating. Like every Armenian, both within and outside Armenia, I was driven by a deep desire to help in any way I could,” Haddad explained.

Upon arriving in Armenia, she immersed herself in various projects. At Arvestaran Creative Development Center, she worked on developing a marketing and business plan for a new product launch. Like Martirosyan, she collaborated with Traveling Doctors, which revealed another dimension of Haddad’s impact. There, she provided crucial support in planning projects, developing presentations, and enhancing the organization’s social media presence. Her efforts were pivotal in streamlining operations and increasing the organization’s outreach, directly affecting its ability to serve communities in need. Linda’s strategic insights were also valuable in supporting the Nork Marash Elderly Home, where she witnessed the challenging conditions faced by the elders and took proactive steps to address them.

Her work also extended to the Center for Truth and Justice (CFTJ), where she translated and transcribed testimonies related to recent atrocities in Artsakh. Though emotionally taxing, this task was crucial for documenting human rights abuses and seeking justice. “The work with CFTJ was a stark reminder of the ongoing struggles Armenia faces.

Gevorg Martirosyan mentoring children in Yeghvard (town in Kotayk Province of Armenia) with Children of Regions NGO

Beyond her professional contributions, Linda’s volunteer experience was a journey of personal rediscovery and connection. Returning to Armenia after obtaining citizenship and previously volunteering through Birthright Armenia, she found new ways to deepen her ties to the country and its people. Linda reflects on her time in Armenia with a forward-looking perspective, contemplating ways to maintain her connection to Armenia and continue contributing from abroad.

The experiences of the three volunteers underscore the significance of diaspora engagement in Armenia’s journey towards a brighter future, especially as Armenia and the Armenian nation stand at a critical juncture, facing challenging times today, reflects AVC’s Executive Director Arina Zohrabian. “By leveraging their unique skills, experiences, and perspectives, diaspora volunteers not only contribute to immediate needs but also help lay the groundwork for long-term progress and sustainability,” she said.

 

Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: