Moneh Der Grigorian: “The Armenian School Foundation provides a wonderful opportunity to participate in nation-building”

The Glendale-based Armenian School Foundation unconditionally supports Armenia and the Armenian people through its efforts and activities. For many years, the Foundation has been providing multilateral support to the schools and kindergartens of Armenia and Artsakh and has been helping make sure Armenian children go to school with more pleasure.

In an interview with Hayern Aysor, the Foundation’s President Moneh Der Grigorian talked about the Foundation’s activities and the programs that have been carried out.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Ter-Grigoryan, how was the Armenian School Foundation established?

Moneh Der Grigorian: It all started when Iranian-Armenian benefactor Levon Aharonian heard about a fire that had broken out at School #136 in the Kanaker-Zeytun District of Yerevan on television and decided to sponsor the renovation efforts. Later, he noticed that there are other Armenian schools in poor condition and in need of repair. For that purpose, he started touring different countries to organize fundraisers.

In 2003, we established the Armenian School non-profit foundation in Glendale, aspiring to create a safe and comfortable environment by providing the schools of the remote cities and borderline villages of Armenia and Artsakh with new classroom furniture and other accessories. Fortunately, over the years, the number of donor increased thanks to our supportive friends who trusted us. We also collaborate with various organizations in Armenia and international organizations.

To create jobs and resources for the people in Armenia, the furniture for schools is made in Armenia. The factory is located in Artashat, and thanks to this initiative, today, nearly 12-15 families are able to earn a living.

I must also mention that the Armenian School Foundation provided all the furniture to the ARS “Soseh” Kindergarten that opened in Stepanakert in September, except for the beds.

Hayern Aysor: How many staff members does the Foundation have?

Moneh Der Grigorian: Our team is not too big, but we all have a sense of responsibility and are well aware of the importance of the task that we have assumed.

The staff in Glendale consists of 11 people, and there are seven people working in Armenia. We are always in contact with the staff in Armenia. Throughout the year, we manage to help raise funds by organizing several profitable events, including painting exhibitions, New Year’s events and banquets. It is a little hard to collect the money, but we accomplish our mission by the end of the year.

Hayern Aysor: How would you sum up the past fourteen years?

Moneh Der Grigorian: First, I must say that the schools in borderline villages have mainly been in our focus over the past couple of years.

Throughout 2016, we provided school furniture and other necessary accessories to 15 schools in the Tavush Province. This year, we included 32 schools in the program. If I was asked to give an overall description, I would say that the Foundation’s large donators have helped provide new, colorful and multifunctional desks, chairs, blackboards, shelves, computer desks and hangers to 24,000 children in 260 schools and kindergartens and accessories for teachers costing roughly $1,345,584.

I must also mention the fact that we complete our activities by September 1 so that children start the new school year in a great mood.

Hayern Aysor: Do you notice the excitement of the residents of borderline regions and villages after completion of such activities?

Moneh Der Grigorian: I could notice the excitement right from the first visit. They are filled with hope. They understand that they are not alone and that they can rely on the people who are supporting them.

Every time, I have an indescribable feeling. I have peace of mind when I think that we can put smiles on the faces of wonderful children living in the borderline villages. After all, they are our future.

We must always remember that each of us can contribute to Armenia’s development with small tasks. In general, the Armenian School Foundation provides a wonderful opportunity to participate in nation-building.

Hayern Aysor: During your visit to Armenia, you also had a meeting with Minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia Hranush Hakobyan. How would you assess the meeting?

Moneh Der Grigorian: I think it was an effective meeting. I would like to thank Hranush Hakobyan for the cordial reception. The Minister praised the Foundation’s activities and the plan to help schools of Armenia and Artsakh and provide them with furniture. She urged the Foundation to work more closely with the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia and continue to help solve the problems of borderline settlements in order to keep our borders strong and secure.

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