This, our last day before departing for home, began with a visit to the Vernisage Art Market and the local vegetable market where the Delegates were able to buy gifts for friends at home. We then traveled out of town to visit The Diaconia Charitable Fund, located on 15 hectares of land with 75 homes.
We were the first group from the U.S. to visit and we were treated royally. Our host and founder of the organization, Baru Jambazian, explained that the Diaconia Charitable Fund was established to work with survivors of the 1989 earthquake as well as other families impacted by war, poverty, and misfortune. The Fund has built homes, provided health care, food aid and mental health access, founded workshops to teach skills, and provided support for disabled children and talented young artisits and musicans. We were treated to a wonderful lunch, during which we were entertained by a number of the children, and we visited a family who lived in the settlement. We were all moved and impressed by the Fund’s efforts. As we had already presented our Mary Pomeroy Awards, we took up a spontaneous collection and were able to present a gift to Baru to help continue the work of the Fund.
Our last visit of the trip was to the home of Mrs. Hripsimeh in Ashtarak, located on the southern slope of Mount Aragats. Mrs. Hripsimeh lives in a 170 year-old home, the oldest in Ashtarak. At one time, Mrs. Hripsimeh hosted a cooking show on Armenian television, and she provided us with a cooking class in her garden, teaching us how to make summer dolmas, lentil soup, and a delicious sweet. We were then guided into her wine cellar for a gorgeous meal which included the dishes we had watched being prepared.
[Cathi Smith, Recorder]