Some 700 volunteers from France, Germany, and Switzerland will work the phones throughout the four-day event, with calls being placed 12 hours a day. Stationed in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, and Toulouse, the volunteers will call close to 60,000 Armenian families, businesses, and organizations across Europe to request financial support for the ongoing development of Armenia and Artsakh. Also participating in the Phoneathon will be the Armenian communities of the Netherlands and Greece.
Funds raised during Phoneathon 2011 will be dedicated to vital water-infrastructure projects in close to ten rural communities throughout Artsakh and the Tavush Region of Armenia.
Proceeds from last year’s Phoneathon, totaling around 1.4 million euros, were used for the construction or renovation of water infrastructures in the Hartashen, Togh, Aknaghbyur, and Ukhtadzor villages of Artsakh’s Hadrut Region as well as the construction of a school in Ashotsk, a rural community in Armenia’s Shirak Region (please visit himnadram.org for detailed information about these projects).
Phoneathon 2011 will be hosted by popular French journalist and television personality Michel Drucker. “My parents come from Romania, where there is a sizeable Armenian community, and I’ve often heard of the Armenians and some of the tragic chapters of their history,” Drucker said.
“I feel honored to take part in Phoneathon 2011, which is led by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s French affiliate and aims to contribute to the rebirth of the Armenian homeland,” Drucker continued as he appealed to Armenian communities in Europe for support. “Thousands of people in Artsakh and Armenia depend on your generosity,” he said.
In the words of Bedros Terzian, chairman of the fund’s French affiliate, the Phoneathon not only continues to grow, but has long shed its definition as a strictly national project, every year drawing increasing numbers of non-Armenian supporters. This year, for instance, a full 90 percent of the Phoneathon’s Toulouse contingent consists of non-Armenian volunteers while the overall number of volunteers has grown tenfold since the Phoneathon’s inception 11 years ago. In 2000, when the far-reaching fundraising event was initiated by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s French affiliate, it was run by 70 volunteers, and calls were made from Paris only.
Phoneathon 2011’s main corporate sponsor and partner is the French telecommunications company France Telecom Orange. Ever since the launch of the Phoneathon 11 years ago, France Telecom Orange has had an instrmental role in the success of the event, by donating the use of its telephone stations in five French cities as well as allowing free calls and providing full technical support.
In 2000, the inaugural Phoneathon yielded 2,907 donation pledges and raised an amount in francs equivalent to 216,500 euros. In the 11 years of the Phoneathon, over 411,000 phone calls have been made and a total of almost 10 million euros has been raised through donations by close to 21,000 supporters. All proceeds have been used for the implementation of infrastructure-development projects in Armenia and Artsakh.