Witnesses Reopening of ARS Stepanakert “Soseh” Kindergarten
GLENDALE, Calif. – Over 125 members and supporters of the Armenian Relief Society of Western USA traveled to Armenia and Artsakh for a two-week period in September 2017 for a tour of the motherland and to witness the reopening of the ARS Stepanakert “Soseh” Kindergarten. The tour was headed by Jasik Jarahian.
Travelers filling three tour buses were able to visit numerous sites in Armenia, including Echmiadzin, the Sardarabad Monument, Saint Hripsime Church, Tsakhkadzor, Kecharis Monastery, Gyumri, Garni, the Keghart Monastery, the Lori Pert, Haghpat, museums, local restaurants, and more.
On September 4, tour participants headed to Dilijan for an overnight stay and visited the spectacular campus of United World College Dilijan. The next day, travelers departed for Artsakh via the Vardenis Highway, a beautiful and newly constructed route, which is a project that was undertaken by Armenia Fund, engaged the support of individuals and organizations worldwide, and has shortened the commute between Yerevan and Artsakh.
Prior to arrival in Stepanakert, a visit to the Dadivank Monastery left a memorable and lasting impression on travelers. Upon arrival in Artsakh, participants received a warm welcome, and due to the large size of the ARS of Western USA group, travelers stayed in three hotels until September 8.
During the morning of September 6, members delivered memorial flowers for fallen servicemen in Artsakh. Thereafter, the official reopening of the ARS “Soseh” Kindergarten in Stepanakert was held, a project toward which the ARS of Western USA has brought its monumental support and raised over $345,000 over a two-year period.
Alongside the ARS of Western USA, hundreds of individuals gathered at the kindergarten’s reopening ceremony. The ceremony saw the attendance of Artsakh President Bako Sahakian, Archbishop Barkev Martirosyan, Artsakh Prime Minister Arayik Harutyunyan, Speaker of the Parliament Ashot Ghulyan, ARS Central and Regional Executive members, ARS members from various countries, and supporters. ARS of Western USA Regional Executive Board members Varduhi Petrosyan, Nora Shirikian, Armenouhi Tomassian, and Maral Touloumian, as well as ARS Stepanakert “Soseh” Kindergarten Rebuilding Project Committee members from the Western Region, including Jasik Jarahian, Seda Khojayan, and Vicky Marashlian were also present.
After remarks were delivered by guests, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held and attendees were able to tour the site of the kindergarten. As a result of the vast support demonstrated by individuals and communities of the Western United States toward the kindergarten rebuilding project, the region contributed toward 1 hall, 3 classrooms and 2 small rooms at the kindergarten, as well as 11 roots, 39 branches, 52 pavers, and 108 leaves on the donor recognition tree. The region is also grateful for the instrumental role of sponsors and donors, who made donations in the form of classroom furniture, children’s beds and bedding, office furniture, backpacks, school uniforms, children’s sleepwear, and more, in benefit of the kindergarten and its students. In-kind donations were made by Armenia School Foundation, Focus on Children Now, Modella Uniforms, and Sebouh and Elizabeth Sarkissian. The ARS of Western USA is thankful for the generosity and kindheartedness of each individual and establishment, who made worthwhile donations to this cause, including donations made on both happy occasions and in memoriam.
Following the reopening ceremony, on the evening of September 6, members attended an exceptional dinner reception in Shushi hosted by President Sahakian, which saw the attendance of over 800 guests. This event allowed participants to have a close encounter with the President of the Artsakh Republic.
On September 7, travelers spent time with servicemen in Martakert and, thereafter, the ARS Glendale “Sepan” Chapter executive and chapter members met with families and servicemen to offer and distribute financial assistance in the amount of $40,000 the chapter had raised, as well as 35 boxes filled with donation items.
While in Artsakh, travelers also visited Tigranagert and Kantsasar, and spent an enjoyable afternoon at the Dzaghgashad Village-Nigol Douman museum, hosted by Jasik Jarahian, and became closely familiarized with Armenian village life and cultural traditions.
On the evening of September 7, the 25th anniversary of ARS Artsakh was celebrated during a banquet during which memorabilia was presented to the ARS of Western USA Regional Executive, alongside Regional Executives from other regions, for their support of the Artsakh Republic. En route back to Yerevan, Armenia, travelers experienced sightseeing in Shoushi and a visit to the Tatev Monastery with the tramway. On September 9, the ARS Armenia banquet was held.
A total of 82 members and individuals traveled to Tiblisi and Javakhk on September 10, for a three-day trip (of which 54 participants were from the ARS of Western USA tour), returning on September 13, 2017. This trip allowed the opportunity to visit the youth centers in Javakhk, including the Akhaltskha Youth Center, which is supported by the ARS of Western USA, and to meet with the Javakhk Fund Chairperson Bagrat Sargsyan, as well as ARS members in the region.
For those who remained in Armenia during this time period, the tour included visits to the Komitas Museum, Yerablur, the Armenian Genocide Memorial (Dzidzenagapert), the ARS Mother & Child Clinic and Birthing Center in Gyumri, the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies, Stepanavan, Aparan, Oshakan, Ashtarak, senior centers, and attendance at evening events, such as the ballet, opera, theater, and concert, as well as on the Armenian television program Kisapac Lusamutner.
Upon the conclusion of the region’s tour, Jasik Jarahian was accompanied by Artemis Gregorian from ARS Artsakh to visit the ARS Soseh Kindergarten in the village of Ashan, which is one of the two kindergartens in Artsakh sponsored by the ARS of Western USA region.
This memorable tour allowed the opportunity for its participants to fully experience the motherland with all its beauty and to promote the noble mission of the Armenian Relief Society.
The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, established in 1984 and with regional headquarters in Glendale, CA, has 26 chapters and more than 1,200 members in four western states. The ARS operates a Social Services Division and Child, Youth, and Family Guidance Center, one-day schools, and funds numerous youth programs, scholarships, and relief efforts. For additional information, visit www.arswestusa.org or call (818) 500-1343.