AYF Raises Money to Fund Freedom Fighter's Medical Needs

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

A scene from the AYF event benefitting Freedom Fighters

PASADENA - Armenians gathered in solidarity at a Revolutionary Song
Night dinner on Saturday, August 18th at the Pasadena Armenian Center
to fundraise for AYF's `With Our Soldiers' Campaign. With the Central
Executive declaring this year as the `Year of the Azadamardig,' the
event was one of many to assist veterans of the Artsakh War with
necessary medical treatments. Twenty Azadamardigs have been treated so
far, with their ailments ranging from the need for eye prosthetics and
hearing aids to surgeries to remove shrapnel still within their bodies
decades after the war.

More than 150 people were in attendance, and donations were being
gathered throughout the night as Viken Yacoubian performed
revolutionary songs. The AYF reached out to the community and received
overwhelming support from local ARF, ARS, and AYF chapters. Individual
supporters and their families also donated, enabling more aid to reach
the war veterans in need of medical care. Over thirty thousand dollars
was raised. `This event showed that our community stands with the AYF
in supporting our freedom fighters. We thank them for that support and
we are confident that together, we can make the lives of at least a
few dozen of our Azadamardigs better,' said AYF Central Executive
Chairman David Arakelyan.

The `With Our Soldiers' committee of the AYF premiered a video it had
prepared documenting the atrocious conditions the veterans live in,
and the personal connections made between AYF members who traveled to
Armenia this summer, and the Azadamardigs in the Homeland. Caspar
Jivalagian, one of this year's Youth Corps group leaders who visited
the Azadamardigs said, `The conditions they live in are unacceptable,
and will break your heart. It is embarrassing, very embarrassing that
the veterans, who gave their blood for our country, are not being
taken care of by the government of Armenia.'

It is the bureaucracy in Armenia which prevents veterans from
receiving any sort of aid from the institutions meant to provide such
support to the freedom fighters. Veterans need volumes of supporting
paperwork, which is difficult to obtain since many of them never filed
the proper claims to receive an official status of a `freedom fighter'
back in early 90's. Even for those veterans who have their documents
in order, the government assistance is so insignificant compared to
their needs and so difficult to obtain that many simply choose not to
pursue it. This leaves the wounded and suffering Azadamardigs to fend
for themselves and attempt to provide for their families.

An important factor in dedicating this year to the freedom fighters is
the need to raise awareness about their problems and to make this
issue a focal point for the Armenian society, both in the Diaspora and
in the Homeland. `Hopefully, the With Our Soldiers initiative will
bring greater attention to the issues faced by our freedom fighters
and force the Armenian government to do more in resolving these
problems,' stated Arakelyan.

The With Our Soldiers committee worked tirelessly to ensure the
success of the event, especially in securing donations. Tro Krikorian,
a member of With Our Soldiers taskforce and emcee for the evening
concluded, `It was an amazing event all around, especially in terms of
fundraising. The video presentations really shed light on the
campaign, which helped garner new support around this important issue.
The campaign committee was able to raise enough funds to help over 50
veterans with their medical needs.' Jivalagian added, `I promised we'd
go back with more help. We really are changing lives.'

For more information about the WOS campaign and further efforts to aid
veterans of the Artsakh war, visit www.WithOurSoldiers.com.