The Phoneathon operated 12 hours a day for four consecutive days, as close to 700 volunteers stationed in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, and Toulouse called nearly 50,000 families, businesses, and organizations to appeal for their support of vital development initiatives in Armenia and Artsakh. As in previous years, the Phoneathon’s volunteer corps in France included scores of French youths, who demonstrated their solidarity with their Armenian friends by actively contributing to the success of the event.
Ever since the launch of the European Phoneathon in 2000, its volunteers have not only generously given of their time, but themselves made donations (often as much as 2,000 euros) to the cause. Another significant characteristic of the Phoneathon continues to be the increasing and enthusiastic participation of dedicated young volunteers, reflecting ongoing efforts by European affiliates of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund to ensure substantial youth involvement in the pan-national endeavor.
Proceeds from the Phoneathon will be used for the implementation of a wide range of development initiatives. With funds raised from the French-Armenian community, totaling 1.173 million euros, the French affiliate will continue to sponsor water-infrastructure projects in close to ten villages in Artsakh and Armenia, concurrently spurring rural development in Armenia’s Tavush Region. The total of 24,150 euros raised from the Swiss-Armenian community will be used by the Swiss affiliate to renovate and furnish the Tchaikovsky School of Music in Yerevan, as announced last year. The German affiliate will use the 81,360 euros raised from the German-Armenian community to help renovate the Gyumri Orphanage. The Dutch affiliate, which raised more than 45,000 euros from the Dutch-Armenian community, will soon announce the project it will sponsor.
While all of the above raised amounts are impressive, the Greek-Armenian community’s contribution to the Phoneathon is especially noteworthy, in view of Greece’s current economic and political woes. Despite the country’s volatile situation, the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s Greek affiliate was able to rally the local Armenian community in support of the Phoneathon, raising close to 35,000 euros. This amount will be used to rebuild the water infrastructure of Karin Tak, a village in Artsakh’s Shushi Region.
“The European Phoneathon has long established itself as a powerful fundraising conduit, with a complex yet highly efficient mechanism that has earned the trust of not only the French-Armenian community, but the European public as a whole,” said Bedros Terzian, chairman of the fund’s French affiliate. “That trust is attested to by two core indicators: increased youth participation and growing numbers of donors.”
Terzian called on all recently established fund affiliates to adopt the proven Phoneathon model by starting phone drives in their own communities. He also announced that, as in previous years, donations continue to be made to the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund after the conclusion of the Phoneathon.
In several statements made before and during the Phoneathon, Michel Drucker, the event’s celebrity host, expressed his fondness for the Armenian people and support of the Phoneathon’s mission. He is overjoyed, he said incidentally, that a long-held personal wish came true this year when French-Armenian star Simon Abkarian signed on to portray his father, Dr. Abraham Drucker, in an upcoming made-for-television biopic.
At the closing ceremony of the Phoneathon, Terzian thanked Michel Drucker for his invaluable role in the success of the event and presented him with a kamancha, a traditional Armenian string instrument.