BOSTON—The ‘Safe Steps for the people of Karabakh’ campaign Co-Chairs Nina and Raffi Festekjian hosted a benefit dinner on Saturday, June 10, which raised $220,000 for landmine clearance in Artsakh.
The benefit dinner was by invitation only and over 100 guests attended and were addressed by Robert Avetisyan, Permanent Representative of NKR to the United States, the CEO of The HALO Trust, Major General James Cowan CBE DSO, as well as renowned photojournalist Scout Tufankjian.
Scout Tufankjian’s latest photography from Karabakh was on exhibit for the first time at the event and five exclusive prints were auctioned to raise funds. Scout’s photography will travel to New York and Los Angeles for exclusive showings and events as part of a North American tour. Also auctioned were a case and a magnum of Zorah Yeraz wine, kindly donated by the Zorah Winery in Armenia.
HALO CEO James Cowan said: “Thanks to the incredible community in Boston, and the anonymous family foundation that is matching every gift to clear Karabakh, $220,000 was raised to clear four dangerous minefields in the Lachin corridor in Maratuk, Kornidzor, Deykhan and Zuar and progress made on a fifth in Suarasy. The Armenian men and women of HALO will clear over 18 acres of land for the benefit of the community at large who will no longer have to fear while their children play and their animals graze. Ultimately, the removal of these deadly landmines not only restores lives but also ensures the livelihood of the entire region which is economically critical.”
As co-chairs of the Safe Steps campaign, Nina and Raffi Festekjian met His Royal Highness Prince Harry on April 4th, 2017 at an event hosted by The HALO Trust at Kensington Palace in London, where he gave a stirring speech that called on the international community to achieve the global goal of a Landmine Free 2025. Clearing Nagorno Karabakh of minefields is a key milestone toward that goal as it is one of the deadliest places for landmine accidents in the world.
As campaign Co-Chairs, Mr and Mrs Festekjian will continue to raise awareness and support, in the United States and in the worldwide Armenian Diaspora to achieve a landmine-free Karabakh by 2020.
Founded in 1988, The HALO Trust is the world’s largest humanitarian mine clearance organization. As a non-profit, we are committed to saving lives and restoring communities threatened by landmines and other weapons of war, such as cluster bombs, stockpiles of small arms and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). To donate to the ‘Safe Steps for the people of Karabakh’ campaign, visit www.halotrust.org/minefreenk/
Mr. and Mrs. Festekjian have spearheaded numerous philanthropic efforts in support of Armenian interests, ranging from the arts to economic development including, the Raffi & Nina Festekjian Foundation, and the YerazArt Foundation. Additionally, Mr. Festekjian has served as chair of the Armenia Fund and most recently has been a board member of the National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia (NCFA). Professionally, Mr. Festekjian is the Executive Chairman and Managing Partner of Empyrean Solutions and Nuarca LLC. His responsibilities include managing the strategic direction of these high growth Fintech companies and looking for acquisition and investment opportunities. Prior to this, he was the CEO of the financial services division of Wolters Kluwer and the co-founder of PCi the largest lending compliance solution provider in the US. He has earned an MBA from JL Kellogg Graduate School, Northwestern University and a civil engineering degree from American University of Beirut. Mrs. Festekjian is the co-founder of Anoush’ella restaurant and leads numerous charitable ventures including YerazArt and Aragil Foundations supporting emerging artists in Armenia.