BEDFORD, Mass.—More than a hundred people from the local Armenian community and abroad supported this summer’s Camp Javakhk during a benefit concert held over the weekend.
Called “Towards Our Dreams” (Դէպի Մեր Երազանքները), Sunday evening’s event at the First Parish in Bedford raised thousands of dollars in donations. The concert featured vocalists and concert organizers Meghri Dervartanian and Hovhannes Khacheryan, as well as performances by Meghna Lahiry, Olivia Carpenter, Maria Airapetian, Rachel Mathew, Anna Balin and Alex Martirosian—students of Victoria Avetisyan.
Javakhk is a predominantly Armenian region located in the southern part of Georgia. The towns of Akhalkalak, Ninotsminda and Dzalka, for example, are 80 to 90 percent Armenian. These are unfortunately impoverished areas, where basic resources like electricity, water and heating are hard to come by. Camp Javakhk started in 2012 in Akhalkalak and Akhaltskha. Today, thanks to the positive response from the Diasporan community and the enthusiasm of the campers and counselors alike, the program has expanded and is now implemented in Ninotsminda and Tsalka as well.
Part of the goal of the program is to assist these communities, while creating and strengthening ties between the youth of the Armenian Diaspora and that of Javakhk.
For Dervartanian—one of three Camp Javakhk directors—the ultimate hope and dream is unity, hence the name of the benefit concert. “Our dream is to one day have a free, independent and united Armenia, which includes Javakhk,” she explained. “I know this dream will become a reality. If I don’t get to see it, I know my children or grandchildren will.”
This will be Dervartanian’s fourth summer at Camp Javakhk, which starts in less than three weeks. The camp program is designed for eight to 15 year-olds; it features Armenian songs and dance routines, arts and crafts, athletic games and educational lessons on health and hygiene, as well as the Armenian language, its culture and history.
For the past several months, Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) chapters in both the Eastern and Western regions have been organizing fundraisers to support this unique program; a 50-dollar donation sponsors one camper. Back in March, the Greater Boston ‘Nejdeh’ Chapter invited the community to Watertown one Sunday afternoon after badarak for fool and mammounia; that group raised almost two-thousand dollars. Then, just last month, the AYF New Jersey ‘Arsen’ Chapter hosted a local restaurant fundraiser, where a percentage of the proceeds was donated to the camp.
This past weekend’s concert raised three-thousand dollars and will go towards the sponsorship of 60 campers. “It’s hard to put my emotions into words,” expressed Dervartanian. “Each and every person contributed to this amazing program. Those 60 campers will be able to attend Camp Javakhk this summer because of them. The smiles that will be beaming on the children’s faces makes all this hard work beyond worth it.”
The program is still inviting donors to support its mission and sponsor a camper. Those who wish to do so can visit the Camp Javakhk Facebook page and click on the donate button. That’s where organizers will also be sharing photos and updates from the camp when it begins later next month.