(Los Angeles, California) – The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA WR) allocated $20,000 to the Armenian Educational Foundation (AEF) to distribute university scholarships to forcibly displaced students from Artsakh who found refuge in Armenia following Azerbaijan’s illegal military assault on September 19, 2023, and an additional $5,000 to provide rental and utility subsidies to freelance journalists who documented the resilience and suffering of Artsakh Armenians during Azerbaijan’s 280-plus day long genocidal blockade, and who continue to shed light on the plight of Artsakh refugees in Armenia.
The funds allocated by ANCA Western Region were raised thanks to the generous contributions of ANCA WR supporters during the 2023 Annual Awards Gala which was held in Los Angeles on November 12, 2023.
“In the lead up to our annual awards banquet in November 2023, ANCA-WR’s board unanimously decided to allocate a portion of its Gala proceeds to the survivors of the Armenian Genocide in Artsakh,” said ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq. “After a careful review of the needs of displaced Artsakh Armenians, we decided to direct a portion of the funds to the Armenian Educational Foundation to ensure the education of Artsakh’s new generation, and another portion to the ReArmenia online campaign launched by Scout Tufankjian and Simon Maghakyan in support of the heroic journalists who continue to report about the suffering of Armenians during and after Azerbaijan’s genocidal blockade.”
Since its establishment in 1950, the Armenian Educational Foundation has been instrumental in fostering educational development in the diaspora and the homeland. With over 74 years of service, AEF has consistently provided financial assistance to Armenian educational institutions and students of Armenian descent. Since 2000, AEF has disbursed $5.5 million to renovate over 200 schools in the villages of Armenia, Artsakh and Javakhk, and over $6.3 million in scholarships to students in Armenia, and diaspora. Their programs also include advancing IT education through Armath Labs, supporting schools in the diaspora, and supporting Artsakh war veterans with scholarships, laptops, and other essential educational resources.
In 2023, AEF sponsored over 50 Artsakh students in Armenia. Since September 19th, 2023, AEF has been actively raising funds to offer scholarships to individuals displaced from Artsakh. ANCA Western Region’s $20,000 contribution to AEF will finance an additional 33 scholarships for Artsakh students, increasing the total number of such scholarships from 105 to 138.
“We, at the Armenian Educational Foundation, believe that the best way to help Armenia is through education. We are glad and thankful to see that the ANCA WR shares our vision and are joining us in this mission. Thanks to their generous donation we will be able to give the gift of education to 33 displaced students from Artsakh,” said AEF President Serop Beylerian.
The initiative to “Support Displaced Artsakh Freelance Journalists,” spearheaded by Scout Tufankjian and Simon Maghakyan, addresses the urgent needs of freelance journalists who have been uprooted from their homes. This campaign does not only aim to provide them with financial assistance, but it sustains the voice of Artsakh Armenians through the articles and investigative research work of freelance journalists, enabling them to continue their vital work under challenging circumstances. The journalists’ reporting plays an essential role in bringing to light the experiences and stories of the over 100,000 Armenians forcibly displaced from Artsakh, ensuring that their voices are heard and their experiences are not forgotten in the larger global discourse.
“The journalists of Artsakh were our eyes and our ears throughout the illegal Azerbaijani blockade, working tirelessly to provide a window through which the world could see the strength, resilience, humor, love, and humanity of the Artsakhtsi people. They did this while suffering from the effects of the blockade—filing stories while queuing for bread and water, charging camera batteries with scraps of electricity, conducting interviews while trying to make sure that their children in their lives could still laugh and play. And finally, horrifyingly, reporting on the One Day War, the Fuel Depot Explosion, and then their own forced exile,” said Scout Tufankjian, renowned documentary photographer and co-creator of the online fundraising campaign. “These are hard-working professionals, but they have lost everything. We owe these journalists so much and we (and Artsakh) will continue to need their work in the future. I am so grateful that while the world may have turned its eyes to other stories, the ANCA-WR has not turned away and has stepped in to help support them in their time of great need. Thank you for supporting these amazing men and women.”
The “Support Displaced Artsakh Freelance Journalists” fundraiser is organized by U.S.-based writer and researcher Simon Maghakyan, best known for his pioneering investigative exposé of Azerbaijan’s covert erasure of Armenian heritage, and U.S.-based photographer Scout Tufankjian, best known for her photographs of President Barack Obama, the Armenian Diaspora, and Artsakh. 100% of the donations to the campaign will go directly to displaced freelance journalists from Artsakh (reArmenia doesn’t charge processing fees for fundraisers). This online fundraising campaign has a target amount of $23,822. As of today, the organizers have been able to raise $11,801.78 (49% of the target amount). With ANCA Western Region’s $5,000 contribution, the organizers will reach 71% of their target amount with the online campaign active for another 37 days. Anyone interested in contributing to the online fundraiser can do so at the following ReArmenia campaign page: https://rearmenia.com/en/fundraisers/support-displaced-artsakh-freelance-journalists?tab=story.
“I am grateful to ANCA-WR for the generous contribution in support of displaced freelance Artsakh journalists. We have all read the work of these journalists, seen their photographs, and heard their voices during the 2023 siege, the invasion, and the exodus in every major media outlet. But now, the people who became the global voice for Artsakh are unhoused. Being a freelance journalist is a tremendous sacrifice, one that refugees cannot sustainably afford in expensive Yerevan,” said writer and researcher Simon Maghakyan. “It is, therefore, encouraging that one of the largest Diaspora organizations is supporting displaced freelance Artsakh journalists so that they can continue their work. Helping displaced refugee journalists with housing expenses is not only a humanitarian act: it’s an investment in ensuring that the plight of Artsakh has credible spokespersons. I hope that community members and other organizations will be inspired by ANCA-WR’s generous contribution and likewise participate in this fundraising effort.”
About ANCA Western Region
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, ANCA WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
About Armenian Educational Foundation
The Armenian Educational Foundation is a non-profit organization established in 1950. Their goal is to provide financial assistance to Armenian educational institutions and support students of Armenian descent. Currently, AEF is offering over 1500 scholarships in Armenia and the Diaspora. Moreover, they have successfully renovated more than 200 village schools in Armenia, contributing to the improvement of educational infrastructure. Their programs also encompass various initiatives catering to Diaspora students.
About Simon Maghakyan’s & Scout Tufankjian’s Campaign
Following Azerbaijan’s Sep. 2023 ethnic cleansing of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh), many freelance journalists became homeless refugees in Armenia. This fundraiser will help ease their hardships and continue their freelance work.