DETROIT, Mich.—On March 19, 2021, Detroit’s Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Seniors and Juniors packed up medical supplies in a large container to be sent to Armenia to assist wounded soldiers. Through Friends of Artsakh, a local non-profit entity set up to benefit the people of Artsakh, almost $500,000 of medical supplies were collected and sent.
A committee of medical professionals and community volunteers was formed back in October shortly after Azerbaijan attacked Armenia. The group spent months requesting and collecting donations from hospitals and medical centers throughout the midwest. Through the help of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) in Armenia, Friends of Artsakh was ultimately able to secure a destination that is treating wounded soldiers.
“It took us more time than we expected, due to the political situation in Armenia. We weren’t going to send supplies to have them sit at the airport or find themselves on the black market, so it was through the great work of the ARS in Armenia that we were able to achieve this result with our great volunteers and organizations,” said Raffi Ourlian, chair of the Armenian Community Center of Greater Detroit.
Many Armenian organizations and volunteers also assisted in the Friends of Artsakh initiative, helping cover the costs of collecting supplies and having them shipped to Armenia. Volunteers were helping regardless of their connection to the community, whether they were Armenian or not; they just wanted to help.
“The collective effort of our community was commendable,” said Armenian National Committee of Michigan chairlady Dzovinar Hatzakordzian. “Everyone came together to support this important initiative to collect much-needed medical supplies for our wounded soldiers. After facing a few hurdles because of Armenia’s political situation, I am glad that the supplies are on their way,” she continued.
“The overwhelming response we received from our community to donate and help collect medical supplies and equipment was truly heartwarming,” said committee member Nayiri Karapetian. “People from all around the Midwest contributed and did whatever it took to get the supplies to us. Without hesitation, many volunteers worked countless hours to organize, count, inventory, box, weigh and measure items.”
In addition to medical supplies, Friends of Artsakh has also been collecting monetary donations to assist families most impacted by this devastating war. This is a long-term project to help build a bright future for the region. “Although we may be thousands of miles away, our hearts are always with our brothers and sisters in Artsakh and Armenia,” said Karapetian.