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11/06/2021

For young people, team sports participation promotes physical and mental health and wellbeing, builds confidence, involves memory and thinking skills, reduces stress and anxiety, improves concentration and increases IQ.  With this in mind, the Knights and Daughters of Vartan have been involved in many school support projects.

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Fuller Housing for Armenia 2021, June 6-18

By NAD Sona Manuelian

Covid-19 could not prevent us this year from traveling to Armenia with a volunteer build team. We were determined to assist a family, the Poghosyans, to fulfill their dreams of having a decent home to live in.

This year we had nine brave volunteers join us.

Our team consisted of John and June Mangasarian from Boston, Jane Baxter from Chicago, Kimberly Halgren from Minnesota, Walter and Robert Pinkerton from Kansas, Tyler Pinkerton from Georgia, Natalie Janji from California and Haig Gulian (a Knights of Vartan member) from New Jersey.  

NAD Sona Manuelian and NS Leo Manuelian with team members in front of the house.
Asbed Haig Gulian at the work site

The Poghosyan family, father Bejan, wife Nune and their children, Eric 9 years and   sister Nare 2 years old live in Marmarashen village in the Ararat region. They had been renting from a village home owner. The owner had to sell the home. The family then had to move into a domik (a container). Bejan started construction on a decent home, but was unable to complete on his own.

The base of the bedrooms is done

Our work began on the morning of June 7th. After we were introduced to the family and given safety instructions, we began our work. We started with the inside of the home. The bedrooms were the first rooms to lay down the sub base.

There is a certain rhythm to swinging buckets filled with concrete to the person next to you in line. If you hum the tune of Tamzara, it works out very well.

At one point Bejan’s son, Eric joined us in the bucket line, helping pass the buckets. He had a look of determination and pride on his face. And so, he should, for it was his home he was helping to complete! It was also his birthday and the Co-Team leader’s (Leo Manuelian) birthday as well. Maybe it was the enormous cake? Nope! It was definitely the fact that he was contributing to the completion of his home.

Eric works sid by side with the team.

After the inside of the home was done it was time for the roof. After the group of men figured out how to work the ladder, (this while the women laughed) the bucket line for the toof (soft stone) began.  Team members took turns shoveling and going up onto the roof.

Lunch was always provided by FCHA followed by desert and Coffee (Hyegagan Soorj.)

There were several water breaks as well and more coffee and cookies. This year’s weather in Armenia was unusually hot. The work days were split up with touring. Etchmiadzin, Tsitsernagaberd, Matenadaran, Haghartsin, Lighthouse Foundation, Lake Sevan, Garni and the most amazing site ever, The Symphony of the Stones.

We were to tour Khor Virab as well. The temperature on that day was 101 degrees. We decided against it due to the danger of heat stroke.

Toward the end of the trip, the family had a BBQ for the team. When it came time to say our farewells, tears were shed from us all. Strong bonds were created between the family and the team. As we bid farewell, Sis and Masis stood proudly off in the distance behind the family’s home, knowing that we would return the following year with another team.

God willing.

Mt. Ararat