STOCKTON–As the March For Humanity makes its way from Fresno–to Sacramento–churches have warmly welcomed the group of 16 young walkers with open arms.
"One of our main concerns when we began planning the march was where we would sleep each of the 19 nights," said Serouj Aprahamian–coordinator of the march. "However–many churches throughout our route sympathized with our efforts and became our second homes. Their kindness and generosity will not be forgotten."
The group has developed a tradition of expressing their appreciation to the church administrators by presenting them a copy of Peter Balakian’s Black Dog of Fate and a pomegranate ornament–the Armenian traditional symbol for life.
As the marchers make their way from one city to another–public awareness about their undertaking continuously grows as residents of the areas they march through encourage and support their efforts by offering food–water–and even donations.
"All churches we stayed at provided their facilities to us with no questions asked and no strings attached," said Aprahamian. "This shows that in the battle to secure justice for the victims of the Armenian genocide–we have the support of the masses–and that the masses have the understanding and knowledge to stand behind the righteous."
Defying sore muscles and aching joints–the group has already marched close to 160 miles in 14 consecutive days. Determined to inform the world about the Armenian genocide and the 1.5 million innocent lives that were lost as a result of the crime against humanity–the marchers will continue walking until they arrive at the State Capitol.
The brave youth will join a large rally–organized to thank the state of California and the legislatures of 36 others for properly recognizing the Armenian genocide.
"Alongside shelter–nutritious food is crucial for the marchers. We are grateful to the Armenian Relief Society for sponsoring all food expenses by allocated a full time staff to travel with the marchers and prepare meals for them," said Vicken Sosikian–director of the March For Humanity. "Other than great food–the staff has also been a source of guidance and inspiration–often taking the role of parents on their shoulders."