Over the course of 25 years, Project AGAPE has helped the Armenian Orthodox Church meet the basic needs of refugees of war, families who are impoverished, and children who are sick. Watch to learn more about Project AGAPE and the Special Sunday on January 19.
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ. Here in the North Carolina Annual Conference, we cherish a long-standing, deep and ongoing relationship with the Armenian Apostolic Church. Nara Melkonyan is the director of Project AGAPE. Tell us about Project AGAPE.
Project AGAPE started twenty-six years ago. It started in the country called Armenia. It started in the time when Armenia was in agony. It was in agony because of the earthquake, because of the war with the neighboring country for the independence of Artsakh, for the people of Artsakh and it started when the Soviet Union dissolved. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the economy of Armenia just collapsed. It started with wonderful projects helping people for the first necessity, humanitarian aid because there were over a million people, a million Armenians, refugees of the war, people without shelter, without homes because half of the country was destroyed. It helped with many projects. With a school in the earthquake zone in Spitak. With many projects helping people to get water and especially with the Christian Education Center in the country called the Republic of Artsakh. There was a children’s home built in that area. There was a hospital built in that area so all the first necessity facilities that helped the refugees to survive in those conditions were built and carried out by Project AGAPE and those projects continue today.
We in Eastern North Carolina know all about farm animals and farms. Can you tell us a bit about what’s happening with chickens and cattle?
Well the unemployment rate in the area is still very high. It’s close to sixty percent and along with humanitarian aid which continues to be important for the families Project Agape seeks ways to start projects that will help the families to become self-sufficient, self-sustainable and one of those is the cattle project which grew into a chicken and garden project later. There is also an important project that helps children to get vocational and educational skills. It’s an after school program in the Christian Education Center at Project AGAPE.
Our Christmas box connection is known and celebrated across the Annual Conference and you are our quality control person. You let us know what the children need, what’s appropriate for them and give us lists so that we know the boxes for babies all the way through teenagers will contain things that are helpful to the children. Tell us more about what it’s like to give those Christmas boxes out.
It’s a joyful feeling because when you see the shining eyes of the children getting those boxes, children are just excited and I know the night before the Christmas events the children do not sleep and they sing and dance. We try to do it not only just handing out the Christmas box but also making it a real joy for children and I have heard from many parents that this is the only time in the Holy season that they realize it’s Christmas, it’s joy. This is a wonderful project and it helps the families because it’s not only a gift for the child but it’s school supplies and it’s even supplies that many parents cannot afford to buy and those are enough for the entire school year, the entire time the children are cared for even when they are newborn infants.
We have designated here in the North Carolina Conference the third Sunday in January to share the stories that you have told. To help people know about the good that has been done, the good that is being done and the good that will be done through generosity. So I invite every congregation in the North Carolina Conference to receive an offering for Project AGAPE on the third Sunday in January or the Sunday of your choice across this new year.