Dear Family, Friends, Colleagues and Clients:

I hope my email finds you all well and getting ready to celebrate the upcoming Holidays!

My family and I are, once again, embarking upon what has now become an annual fundraising effort on behalf of neediest families in Gyumri – the # 2 city In Armenia that is yet to recover from the devastating earthquake of 1988.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to those of you who extended your generosity during the past two years to help these families  – thank you, thank you, thank you!  Words alone cannot express the tremendous difference you have made in the lives of our brothers and sisters. Instead, I am providing  links to videos of our visits with these families, so that you can see and hear for yourself just how grateful they are for your help:

Video #1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8t3wdLw0mNU;

Video #2  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVmy-ag5KfY;

Video #3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kh39862bacI .

This year, my fundraising appeal is slightly delayed – and here’s why.  Every year, when we travel to Gyumri and spend time with the orphans and the needy families, we learn more about their worries and hopes, their needs and wants and, perhaps, most importantly, where our help would make the greatest difference in their lives.  Our efforts were initially aimed at helping orphans who resided at several orphanages in Armenia.  Then, as we learned about the inhumane living conditions of these needy families, we directed our efforts at providing them with food and firewood during the harsh, Siberia-like winters in Gyumri.

During our latest trip to Gyumri in June of this year, we learnt and witnessed an astonishing statistics:  majority of kids residing at the orphanages in Gyumri are ‘social orphans.’  These kids ended up in orphanages because their parent(s) or grandparent(s) could not take care of these kids’ basic needs – food, clothing and medicines….  Can you imagine just how horrible these kids must feel???  I have to admit that I had a twinge or two of feeling very judgmental about these families.  After all, what kind of a parent or grandparent would leave their child/grandchild at an orphanage?  Someone who is a horrible human being with no feelings, right? I was just soooo wrong!!!  I visited many of these families and witnessed their inhumane living conditions – lack of running water, electricity or heat; lack of daily bread (literally), lack of winter clothing, and inability to provide education for their children, among other things.

From the perspective of their physical well-being and having their basic needs met, these children were, in fact, much better off living in the orphanages.  Yet the emotional well-being of these children was severely compromised – they felt abandoned, unloved and often angry.  Their pure spirits just could not comprehend as to why they could not live with their families, the way their other friends did.  And this is when it hit me – one can make a tremendous difference in the lives of these children AND in the lives of their parents/grandparents by enabling these families to stay together!  And all that it would take is to provide these families with basic food staples – flour, sugar, milk, rice, etc. – that are enough to meet their daily needs.  And in Gyumri, this can be accomplished for as little as $50 per month (or $600 per year) per family!!!  Imagine being able to help a child stay with his or her family – it is truly the most precious gift that one can give to a child!

We are traveling to Gyumri on December 19th, to spend two weeks with the children at Diramayr Hayastani Children’s Center.  We will visit with families who are at highest risk of making the heart-wrenching decision of leaving their kids at an orphanage – these are families with a single parent who is unemployable due to a physical disability, or families where the only adult is an elderly grandparent who is unable to work.

Under Sister Arousiag’s kind guidance and with the help of her dedicated staff, we will buy the food at the lowest wholesale prices and pack it in individual containers that are marked for a monthly delivery to these families.  We will deliver the first month’s supplies to these families and share with them the good news – that they need not be separated from each other and that these kids can continue to enjoy the warmth and caring that only a family can provide.

You may recall that I had a dollar amount as a fundraising goal for the previous years’ appeals. This year, there is no specific goal – I will rely on your generosity and God’s guidance to help as many families as possible to stay together for the coming year.  No contribution is too small (or too large J).

All donations are fully tax-deductible – checks should be made out to: “The Armenian Sisters” (http://www.armeniansisters.org) and mailed to my attention at: 25 Allegra Court, White Plains, NY  10603.  Please make certain that you state the following in the ‘comment’ line: “for at-risk families in Gyumri”.

On behalf of these families and especially the children – thank you in advance for your support!!! Words alone cannot express the tremendous difference you will be making in their lives.

May God bless you with abundance of health, love, happiness and money and return your generosity 1000-fold.

Warmest regards,

Anna Kazanchyan