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FAR part of multi-org effort to help young Armenians with Cleft...

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    Fund for Armenian Relief
    Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR)
    Press Office
    630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
    Tel: (212) 889-5150; Fax: (212) 889-4849
    email: [email protected]

    FAR part of multi-organization effort to help young Armenians with
    Cleft Palates and Cleft Lip A child, with a cleft palate or cleft lip,
    faces a life with no smiles.

    Each year, approximately 50 children are born in Armenia who suffer
    from these birth defects. Not only does a clef palate or lip present
    cosmetic problems, it can also lead to malnutrition because it affects
    how children eat.

    These children, however, now have the chance to live normal lives
    thanks to an effort jointly undertaken by the Cafesjian Foundation,
    the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR), and several other non-profit

    In early 2007, FAR began investigating the plight of these children in
    Armenia. The Cafesjian Family Foundation, which was initiating an
    effort to address the issue, connected with FAR. The Smile Project
    formed to consolidate available resources and expanded to include the
    Yerevan State Medical University, Arabkir Medical Center in Yerevan,
    the Hand in Hand Foundation of Karabagh, Hope for the City, and Smile
    Network International.

    In total, 50 young Armenians, mostly under the age of 4, underwent
    surgery last October thanks to the Smile Project. The surgery raised
    public awareness about the issue and trained Armenian doctors in the
    latest techniques of cleft palates and lips. Smile Network
    International's surgical team will arrive in Armenia for the second
    mission in late June to address surgical needs of over 50 Armenian
    children and young adults with cleft lip and cleft palate birth

    "It is great to know we played a part in literally bringing smiles to
    the faces of Armenian children," said Garnik Nanagoulian, executive
    director of FAR. "And this project is an example of the power we have
    when we all work together. Many organizations, each with their own
    special abilities and skills, came together to make this complex
    project successful. FAR very much appreciates the efforts of each
    participating organization, and in particular the great partnership
    with the Cafesjian team, as they are not only responsible and caring
    but organized and professional."

    Through the efforts of multiple organizations, FAR identified
    potential patients throughout Armenia and the Armenian population of
    the Javakhk region in Georgia. FAR also worked to cover the costs of
    transportation, meals, accommodations in Yerevan and other relevant
    expenses for the patients and their parents or guardians. In addition
    to the above noted organizations, FAR also worked with members of the
    FAR Fellowship Alumni Association, a nonprofit organization composed
    of the leading healthcare professionals in Armenia. Moved by their
    experiences with FAR, these doctors have been giving back to their
    community over the past ten years. By training Armenian doctors and
    building a sense of volunteerism in them, FAR is able to decrease the
    cost of such surgeries by eliminating the need to fly in teams from
    America. Diocesan Sunday school students helped in the effort as
    well, raising almost $9,000 for the Smile Project through their 2007
    Lenten season fund-raising efforts.

    "We are always so happy with these collections, which have benefited
    FAR programs over the years," said Archbishop Khajag Barsamian,
    President of FAR and Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of
    America (Eastern). "Whether they memorize Bible verses, sell Easter
    baskets, bake, clean homes, wash cars, or pass canisters around at
    church, all their efforts are full of energy and a beautiful spirit."

    The Sunday schools will continue this effort through 2009 and once
    again work to raise money to bring smiles to the afflicted children in
    Armenia. "Sunday School students are always so energized during the
    Lenten Campaign," said Elise Antreassian, Christian Education
    Coordinator at the Armenian Diocese. "This year, the Project Smile
    campaign has prompted students to serve dinners and sponsor sport-or
    walk-a-thons among a number of other fun projects. This is Christian
    education at its best - the Gospel truly and sincerely applied to

    Together, the Diaspora and the medical professionals of Armenia are
    giving these children the opportunity to enjoy a healthy childhood.

    # # #

    About FAR
    Since its founding in response to the 1988 earthquake, FAR has served
    hundreds of thousands of people through more than 220 relief and
    development programs in Armenia and Karabagh. It has channeled more
    than $265 million in humanitarian assistance by implementing a wide
    range of projects including emergency relief, construction, education,
    medical aid, and economic development.

    For more information on FAR or to send donations, contact us at 630
    Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016; telephone (212) 889-5150; fax (212)
    889-4849;; e-mail [email protected].

    -- March 31st, 2008