BY SAREEN KASPARIAN
I didn’t mind the constructive criticism and mindful manner reminders when I was a kid but listening to my mom recite a long list of skills I lacked launched the battle of all battles–experienced mother versus the know-it-all daughter.
Obviously, as a high school junior, I’m still learning and lack many life skills but as a semi-independent almost-adult, I know enough to bring my perspective to the conversation. Actually, when it comes to technology, nutrition and first-aid, I can teach my mom a few important life skills. The more “teachable moments” we exchanged – – from household budgeting to safeguarding our Wi-Fi network to celebrating Armenian traditions, the more we realized the value and importance of this knowledge exchange– not just for our family but for our community.
And so, it begins– the teachable moments or as my mom refers to it– the transfer of knowledge! With every issue, we hope to share our insight with you, as we intertwine experience and reasoning with modern day problems and solutions.
Growing up, my knowledge of Aleppo, Syria was limited to my grandmother’s use of spicy red pepper powder on salads and my family’s ancestral roots there, dating back to my great-grandparents. My understanding and knowledge of Syria greatly increased in recent years as destruction and displacement claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
On Monday, February 6th, devastation stuck Syria again but this time, it did not pay attention to geographical boundaries between nations or high-density refugee populations. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Southern Turkey, followed by a second powerful earthquake 80 miles away, just 12 hours later. Being so close to the epicenter, Aleppo was heavily impacted by the earthquakes.
The number of casualties keeps rising as rescue crews face obstacles such as impassable roads, damaged buildings, medical supply shortages and harsh weather conditions in southern Turkey and Northern Syria.
As in the case with all natural disasters, planet Earth did not discriminate. The violent shaking of the tectonic plates caused widespread destruction and significant loss of life. It struck the old and young. It hit the Christians and Muslims. It destroyed churches, mosques, schools, hospitals and homes.
As the depth and weight of this destruction settles, we ask ourselves– how can we help a region that is heavily burdened with political and logistical challenges? Although conventional methods of transferring funds or sending medical supplies may be unavailable at the moment, our desire to support the humanitarian efforts remains strong.
Donate to Established, Reputable Organizations
Contribute to organizations that are aiding the rescue and recovery efforts in Turkey and Syria directly. My organizations of choice are the Armenian Relief Society’s Syrian Armenian Earthquake Relief Fund and the Board of Regents of Prelacy Armenian Schools’ Armenian Earthquake Victims in Syria fund.
The A.R.S. is an independent, non-governmental organization with a vast network of dedicated volunteers in over 27 regions and proven record of humanitarian assistance to Syria in recent years. The Board of Regents is the governing body of the Prelacy Armenian Schools under the Prelate and Executive Council of the Western Prelacy. Both organizations have strong ties with the Armenian community in Syria.
Beware of Fraudsters and Imposters
If you choose to donate to someone you do not know personally or respond to a charity solicitation received through social media, you may face a fraudster or inexperienced fundraiser. Both methods of donation will be ineffective. While donation scams can occur at any time, they are especially prevalent after high-profile disasters. Criminals often use tragedies to exploit individuals who want to help. Do your research before you click and donate. Additionally, if a charity or organization requests that you donate via cash, gift card, virtual currency, or wire transfer, it is important to verify its authenticity.
With the victims of the earthquake in mind, let’s donate generously and wisely.
Sareen Kasparian is currently a junior at Crescenta Valley High School and a member of the Pasadena Nigol Touman chapter of the Armenian Youth Federation.