The meeting opened with blessings offered by His Holiness Garegin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, and the Lord’s Prayer.
As the first order of business, the trustees unanimously welcomed Mrs. Diruhi Burmayan, widow of the renowned Brazilian-Armenian philanthropist Varujan Burmayan, as the newest member of the Board. A screening of the fund’s annual activity-overview documentary followed, and subsequently the attendees turned to the meeting’s main agenda.
In his report on the fund’s 2009 activities, Executive Director Ara Vardanyan placed particular emphasis on the continued expansion of the organization’s geographical reach, which last year included the establishment of affiliates in Syria and Greece and the reopening of the Cyprus affiliate. Vardanyan also focused on new fundraising mechanisms adopted by the fund, crediting them for a marked jump in the number of donors during last year.
The executive director’s statements were complemented by presentations of the annual financial and audit reports. As he presented the report of the fund’s Control Committee, Chief Controller Vahe Jazmadarian noted significant improvements in terms of the quality of construction projects and optimal utilization of resources throughout 2009.
Next the Board reviewed the fund’s general strategy for 2010. Within this context, NKR President and Board member Bako Sahakyan proposed that funds raised for Artsakh in 2010 be spent on the refurbishment and modernization of the republic’s water-delivery system. The Board unanimously approved the president’s proposal and also resolved to continue the Rural Development Program, one of the fund’s core initiatives.
The Board further resolved that both the Artsakh water-infrastructure initiative and Rural Development Program should be made the overarching themes of Telethon 2010, which will be held on November 25, and addressed certain logistical issue pertaining to the pan-Armenian fundraising event.
“The water-delivery issue is no less critical for Artsakh than road-building was some years ago,” Vardanyan said. “If, thanks to the support of the worldwide Armenian community, Artsakh was provided with a modern transportation infrastructure through the construction of the extensive Goris-Stepanakert and North-South highways, today the republic needs assistance of a similar scale to address its water crisis.”
“The fund’s forthcoming water-infrastructure projects in Artsakh will be a natural extension of our current work in Shushi, where we’re implementing a major initiative to rebuild the city’s internal water-delivery system,” Vardanyan continued. “Together, these efforts will eventually solve all of Artsakh’s water problems.”
As stated during the Board of Trustees meeting, the fund’s decision to focus on solving Artsakh’s water crisis is based on a number of daunting statistics. For instance, nearly 200 of the republic’s 323 villages as yet don’t have easy access to drinking water. The water-related issues impacting these communities range from corroded pipes to crumbling or broken pipelines, reservoirs, and internal networks. It is estimated that relieving the water crisis in Stepanakert alone will require an investment of close to U.S. $17 million.
Before the meeting came to a close, Bedros Terzian, chairman of the fund’s French affiliate and a member of the Board, suggested that a thorough analysis of the fund’s past work be undertaken in order to better plan for the future. Accordingly, Serzh Sargsyan, president of the Republic of Armenia and president of the fund’s Board of Trustees, entrusted Gagik Harutyunyan, chair of the RA Constitutional Court and vice-president of the Board, to prepare such an analysis and present it at the Board’s next annual meeting, in May 2011.
It is noteworthy that the inaugural meeting of the fund’s Board of Trustees, in 1992, was also held on May 14. Then, as now, the composition of the Board is a testament to the fact that the fund is a singular structure which unifies the worldwide Armenian community, irrespective of political or denominational belonging. Thus the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund functions as a converging point for the Armenian nation’s political and spiritual leadership, traditional political parties, scholars, philanthropists, and representatives of humanitarian organizations.
At the inaugural meeting of the Board of Trustees, the founders of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund were unanimous in their conviction that overcoming obstacles to the preservation and strengthening of Armenian statehood could be achieved only through the united efforts of the Armenian nation as a whole. Eighteen years later, the fund continues to bridge all segments of the worldwide Armenian community, enabling every concerned Armenian to participate in the ongoing development of the homeland.