From AUA Sophomores to Foster Children with Love

YEREVAN, Armenia – On January 21, 2017, four sophomore year Business students, Mery Yolyan, Narek Jarayan, Irina Poghosyan, and Hamlet Berakchyan made their way to Gavar orphanage. In addition to love and care, they brought clothes (hats and gloves included), stationery and other essentials with them to 64 foster children.

“The idea originated shortly before Christmas, and we thought it would be great to organize the visit at during the holiday season. As we were discussing our ideas, we figured out that organizing something bigger would have a larger effect than just a visit of a few friends,” said Mery and Narek, the founders of the AUA’s Christmas Giving Program. At first, the students had no idea where to start and which orphanage to chose. As a former Red Cross Society volunteer, Mery took the lead and acquired the list of all state orphanages. After thorough consideration, they chose Gavar Orphanage, which houses 64 children.

“Following our first visit to the orphanage when we came up with a list of needed items and created a Facebook page, logo, boxes, banners, videos, and organized the fundraising event”, Mery and Narek recalled. Raising $1,210 and collecting three suitcases full of clothing within a month was no easy task. AUA’s Christmas Giving team members remark that they put some of their business skills into practice while negotiating for the goods. Now they may even consider themselves ‘professional bargainers’.

The orphanage staff and children warmly welcomed AUA students. Nikolay Nalbandyan, the Director of the Orphanage, noted it was an honor to have the attention of one of the best universities in Armenia. He looked forward to the day when the orphanage children would become AUA students in the future.

Indeed, the mood in the orphanage was festive. Children greeted the team with dance performances. They laughed, interacted, and shared love and sincere emotions.

”Our impressions and feelings about the campaign are very difficult to put into words. Our combined efforts payed off, and we feel very proud to say we did it!” The students later mentioned that this visit was just one in a series of steps. They plan to support the orphanage throughout the year. Moreover, their second step was to allocate the leftover funds to finance one of the children’s tuition fee to study at the culinary school located in Yerevan. Mery and Narek look back on their journey and extend their gratitude to everyone, especially the donors, for helping them in within the campaign.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.