Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fundraiser update from Armenia

Hello dearest friends, I'm very happy to be able to share this great news with all of you.  With the help of all your great contributions, I was able to make this wish of mine a reality.  Your donations reached Armenia, found a great home and now I have received word that the playground for which the funds were to be used for is almost complete.  They have sent me some photos of the work in progress and this makes me very happy and grateful for having such amazing and supportive friends and family around me.  Thank you all very much!

Let me tell you a little about this organization that I'm very happy to have helped out.  When I arrived in Armenia I had two very important goals.  One was to have Gagik's ashes spread all around the grounds of Edjmiatsin and the other was to make sure the funds I had collected with the fundraiser reached a worthy cause.  The first part went as planned and brought peace to my heart at last...  However the donation part was becoming a bit of a challenge. Phone call after phone call to orphanages around the city left me with closed doors.  They didn't want me to do anything for the kids, they all just wanted the funds, and because I wanted to be more involved with where the funds were to be spent I wasn't happy about this arrangement.. We've all heard horror stories about donations and the corrupt way in which they are distributed, but we will not get into that now.

Through a friend I met a very humble and kind man Ashot, who is the director at a great international organization that has been providing warmth and comfort to orphans around the world since 1949.  SOS Children's Villages and the work they do blew me away... First off when I spoke to Ashot on the phone he said that they are not in need of anything, and that the organization provides for everything... this was a shocker for me.  But he would be more than happy if we wanted to spend some time and visit the kids at the village.  So this is how these villages work.. A village is built with 5 to 10 homes on the grounds.  Each home is assigned a "mother" and an "aunt", the mother must be between the ages of 30 to 45(about), single and without children of her own.  Each mother then is given between 4 to 8 kids to care for and raise as her own, they all live in this home as a family unit with the aunt helping out.  The children attend public school with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood and have a small sense of normalcy.  One of the my favorite things about this organization is that unlike other state orphanages the kids are not kicked out at 18 with no skills, jobs or homes and are forced to fend for themselves with any means possible.  SOS organization takes them through their early adult life, still providing a place to live and teaching them a trait of some kind, helping them find jobs etc.  This I think is a much better way of sending these kids out into the world to live and better their lives.

Needless to say I fell in love with this organization, the village which is built in the town of Ijevan, nestled in the hills and the staff of wonderful people who have bonded and have created a beautiful family.  The kids are mostly brought here after the family abandoned or abused them, each with a very sad story.... But they are all very well taken care of, love their "mothers" and all call Ashot uncle.  It was a beautiful family unit we saw and I knew this is where I wanted to contribute.  After walking the grounds with Ashot we realized that the kids don't have a playground where they can have fun and release some energy with laughter, as all kids should.  And that my friends is exactly what we did.... Now it gives me great joy to know that with each child's laughter on that playground Gagik's spirit will be celebrated.  It warms my heart...

Once again all this was made possible by all the generosity you have all shown me.. Words are not enough for me to express my gratitude... May you all find yourselves at one point or another in your lives with such deep satisfaction and inner peace as you have all provided me with...
Thank you my friends!

if anyone is still interested in the cards there are plenty left :)