WATERTOWN, Mass.—Under the Auspices of the Armenian Relief Society of Eastern USA, Inc., the Greater Boston community gathered at St. Stephen’s Apostolic Church in Watertown, to hear the briefing from visiting Prelate of Aleppo Archbishop Shahan Sarkissian, on the latest developments in Syria and the devastating conditions of the Armenian community in that country. More than 200 attendees were present at the event.
On behalf of the ARS and St. Stephen’s Church, ARS “Shushi” Chapter Chairwoman Heather Krafian welcomed the attendees and invited the ARS of Eastern USA Chairwoman Talin Daghlian to deliver her welcoming remarks.
Daghlian in her speech assured the Prelate of Aleppo that ARS will continue its efforts in reaching out to the Syrian Armenian community. She said “From our heart to theirs, we will continue our humanitarian efforts and strengthen our relations reaching out to their needs”.
Then, Daghlian invited Archbishop Sarkissian to deliver his address. His Grace urged the community to continue its support and help to Syrian Armenians, he especially focused on the needs of Armenian Schools in Syria.
The Archbishop’s message was clear: The purpose of his visit was to bring updates on the status of the Armenians in Syria, specifically in the Aleppo community. Serpazan gave an informative description of the status of the Armenian Church, Karen Yeppe Jemaran, and the elementary schools of Aleppo. He also showed several clips of the resilience of the students and the teachers of the schools in these harsh times. He said, “If we do not have active Armenian schools to teach our youth Armenian language and history, Armenian culture will deteriorate, especially the Western Armenian dialect. The education of the Syrian youth must continue, since Syria, specifically Aleppo, has been a source and stronghold of the Western Armenian dialect.”
On behalf of his community, the Prelate expressed gratitude to the ARS and he mentioned that the organization was the first to respond to the appeal for aid, helping the Armenian Schools of Syria. Serpazan Sarkissian presented the ARS with the highest honor, the Medal of Service to the Armenian Prelacy of Aleppo (Perio Hayots Temi Dzarayutyan Shkanshan), and expressed his gratitude to the organization for their humanitarian, charitable and educational support. He asked ARS representatives to come forward to receive the medal. Vicky Marashlian, ARS Central Executive Chairwoman, accepted the Medal and the Certificate on behalf of ARS regions, chapters and members.
After the presentation, Archbishop Sarkissian graciously answered questions about the situation in Syria. He reiterated that Syrian Armenians had not lost hope, and that they remained strong even in these troubled times. He asked audience members to connect with members of the Syrian Armenian community, to give them the message that they are not alone, and to remind them that Armenians all over the world are thinking of their brothers and sisters in Syria.
The event concluded by His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan’s message, the Prelate of the Eastern USA, who welcomed Archbishop Sarkissian to the East Coast, commended his heroic work, and his courage to care for and live alongside his people.
Coffee and refreshments were served by the ARS Eastern USA Leola Sassouni and Shushi Chapters, and St. Stephen’s Church. ARS Eastern Region will continue its support for schools, the Hot Meal Program, the Warm Home Program, the Sponsor a Syrian Armenian Family program, and aid to Kessab Families.
ARS Eastern USA Announces Ongoing Mission in Syria
Since the war in Syria began, the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Eastern United States has donated a total of $248,000 across its numerous aid programs. In joining with the Fund for Syrian Armenian Relief/Pan Armenian Relief Committee that was established in August 2012, the ARS has been able to provide $75,000 in donations to assist Armenians in Syria, in cooperation with the Armenian Apostolic Church of America and other allied organizations. Collaborations such as these have been instrumental in combating the ongoing devastation and violence in Syria. The committee’s joint effort has raised more than $300,000 thus far.
Armenian Schools ($60,000): The destruction from the conflict has crippled Syria’s infrastructure, including its many schools. The ARS Eastern Region has raised $50,000 to keep schools open where it is safe to do so, and to continue classroom instruction elsewhere when necessary. The ARS of Eastern USA is eternally grateful to all of its supporters, chapters, and members for their continuous support of all ARS of Syria programs. We ask our community supporters to remember the ARS in their happy times as well as sad. Whether it is a donation in response to a specific urgent appeal, a donation in memory of a loved one, or an in-lieu-of-flowers bequest, we appreciate every gift and pledge to send them where they are most needed.
Sponsor a Syrian Armenian Family Program ($48,000): The ARS of Eastern USA’s Sponsor a Syrian Armenian Family Program aims to assist struggling families with young children with $100 per family per month. Hundreds of families are in urgent need of this assistance and the ARS of Eastern USA has contributed $48,000 toward this effort.
Hot Meal Program ($20,000): The Hot Meal (Bnag Me Dak Djash) Program was started in November 2012 to provide free meals once a week, but has expanded to run three times a week, serving more than 100 people at each meal. The ARS of Eastern USA has contributed $20,000 toward this effort.
Kessab ($15,000): The ARS of Eastern USA was saddened to hear about the 400 families from Kessab who took refuge in Latakia following attacks on their town, while others stayed behind. Many Armenian families stayed with relatives and friends, while others sought refuge in the Armenian church and hall. The ARS of Eastern USA has contributed $15,000 to save Kessab families.
Warm Home Program ($10,000): The Warm Home Program offers assistance with heating costs to 500-600 families. Each family receives $100 every 3 months through the program.