NEW YORK – Over 450 people from around the world gathered in New York City on December 17 for the 19th annual Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) Holiday Gala: Building a Nation. After two years of virtual galas, due to the pandemic, this year’s event was met with enormous generosity once again, raising an astounding $6 million to support COAF’s rural development projects in Armenia.
The evening, hosted by KTTV FOX11’s Good Day LA anchor Araksya Karapetyan and COAF Senior Director of Development Haig Boyadjian at Cipriani – 25 Broadway, featured tantalizing musical performances by world renowned musicians, including violinist Ara Malikian (Spain) and cellist Sevak Avanesyan (Armenia).
One of the highlights of the evening was when high school students Anna Rafayelyan from the village of Lanjik (Shirak region) and Artur Simonyan from the village of Arteni (Aragatsotn region) took the stage to share with everyone the impact COAF has made in their lives.
This year’s Humanitarian Award was presented to benefactors Peter and Marilyn Sarkesian of Michigan in recognition of their generous contributions to COAF’s various education and healthcare programs.
In his address, COAF founder and chairman Garo Armen spoke about the dire situation in Armenia and in Artsakh, where a humanitarian crisis is currently in the making, due to Azerbaijan blocking the only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia and the rest of the world. He stressed the urgent need to support the people of Armenia by continuing to carry out the important work of nation building and uplifting youth to become the catalysts for change. “We need to show them our commitment; we need to show them that they will not be abandoned in their quest to be important contributors to advancing their country,” stated Armen. He also announced the EU’s commitment of 20 million euros to build two more COAF SMART Centers in the southern region of Syunik in Armenia.
COAF’s goal is to expand its reach to all of rural Armenia’s population of over one million. To date, the organization has served over 100,000 people in five regions of the country. To serve the entire population of Armenia will require an expenditure of $150 million for capital expenses and an annual budget of approximately $21 million.