We plan to continue in this direction by working with AGBU and our other trusted partners in the decades to come. We believe this will make the most substantial impact.
Talia Jebejian Bouldoukian
While known throughout the Armenian world for treating Tuberculosis (or TB) among Armenians in the Middle East, the U.S.-based Armenian Medical Fund (AMF) has branched out to not only support the health of afflicted patients but also the health and wealth of nations, both socially and economically.
That is why, in addition to continuing to fund the Armenian National Sanitarium in Azounieh, Lebanon, the 70-year old health organization also distributes grants and other types of funding for worthy causes under the aegis of different Armenian institutions and non-profits with an existing local infrastructure.
Among them are AGBU programs designed specifically for Armenia and, until recently, in Artsakh. The relationship between AMF and AGBU was established in 2021 with a large donation from AMF to support TUMOxAGBU in Stepanakert. This branch of the acclaimed creative technologies program served as a bright light of hope for Armenian youth interested in stretching their critical thinking skills and applying the technologies of the future to solving projects of their own.
In 2022, the AGBU Learn to Earn Artsakh Program (LEAP) also received funding from AMF, enabling adults to receive free training to develop their job skill sets in the key industry sectors of public administration and tourism. Today, with many evacuees from Artsakh now in Armenia, existing participants will continue their coursework with LEAP to enhance their job prospects in their new country.
Moreover, LEAP provides English-language classes for students looking to leverage their chances for admissions to top universities of the world or institutions like the American University of Armenia (AUA). For adults, learning the language of business is also critical as they seek employment in industries where English proficiency is an asset, such as tech and tourism. What’s more, the AMF’s endowment to the AUA, an AGBU-supported institution, also means more scholarships for students interested in pursuing health care studies or for military veterans and their families.
“AGBU is grateful to have a trusted partner like the Armenian Medical Fund,” stated AGBU Director of Outreach and Development Karen Papazian. “With the wonderful work AMF has done to upgrade the health care of Armenians in both Lebanon, since 1953, and in Armenia, since its independence, we know we can see eye to eye on how to serve the greatest number of people in the greatest need, whether in the sphere of health or national viability. In fact, we both view them as mutually interdependent,” she added.
Yet some old commitments remain rock solid. While TB has been mostly eradicated from the Armenian population in the Middle East, AMF chairman Vahe Balouzian says that health care is still the cornerstone of its mission. “The sanatorium still stands as the sole TB center in Lebanon, and we continue to fund the maintenance and upgrade of the facility. One wing now operates as a senior living facility for local Armenians with around 60 residents, and the other side still cares for TB patients, which comprise mostly Syrian refugees and Lebanese soldiers.”
While continuing its work for Armenians in Lebanon, AMF created a new layer of outreach in Armenia. “During the time that we were treating TB patients in Armenia, which was critical as many men left the country as migrant workers and brought TB back to their villages and families, our board realized that we could make a greater difference by expanding from solely TB-focused programs to general health care initiatives that would reach even more people,” added Balouzian.
The board therefore established a strong relationship with Armenia’s Ministry of Health, and took it a step further by creating foundational relationships with AGBU among others. “We plan to continue in this direction by working with AGBU and our other trusted partners in the decades to come. We believe this will make the most substantial impact,” said Balouzian.
This article was featured in the 2023 release of AGBU Impact Magazine. For more information on the AGBU Global Relief Fund, click here.