Since December, 2004 the Armenian Women's Welfare Association has been the primary sponsor of the Hanganak Elder Clinic, in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Kharabagh. It's involvement with this non-governmental organization (NGO) in Armenia is an extension of the AWWA's mission to benefit and support the Armenian community.
Under the direction of Dr. Gohar Hovhannisyan, the Project provides medical and social support to the elderly population living alone in Stepanakert Armenia. In order to qualify for services from the Hanganak project, one must be at least 63 years old and have no living family members to provide support. Most of the 200 beneficiaries are women. Typically, their only income is a small government pension. In addition to providing medical assistance, Hanganak Clinic provides a small allotment of groceries and a cozy place to socialize through weekly movies or visits from the local priest. The clinic is bright, cheerful, and well maintained. It is a place where the beneficiaries can enjoy a sense of community through interactions with their peers and others who care about them. Those who cannot leave their homes are visited by Hanganak staff that assess their needs and provide regular care.
In the fall of 2007, AWWA then Board of Directors President JoAnn Janjigian visited the facility. She was very impressed with this well-run organization and the caring work of the staff. The recipients and the staff expressed overwhelming appreciation for AWWA's support and evidence of Project's positive impact on their lives was manifest.
In October of 2011, the government of the Nagorno-Kharabagh Republic celebrated with the Hanganak NGO and presented a special Diploma to the AWWA "for sponsoring Social and Medical Support to the Elderly Living Alone in Stepanakert project, for its charitable mission in Artsakh."
In October, 2014, five members of the AWWA, Susan Giragosian, JoAnn Janjigian, Sara Janjigian Trifiro, Andrea Stepanian Southard, and Annie Youssoufian traveled to Armenia to conduct a more in-depth evaluation of the Project. After spending a few days in Yerevan, the group journeyed by van to Stepanakert. For the four-day visit Dr. Hovhannisyan arranged meetings with Clinic staff, with many of the people who are served by the Project, and with many government officials who were eager to express the importance of the project to their elderly constituents.
After splitting into two groups, each with a translator, the AWWA members set out on home visits. Without exception they were greeted warmly by beneficiaries who were very excited to share their life stories. Some of the homes were private and freestanding while others were flats in old, Soviet-era buildings. All were sparsely furnished, but clean and neat. Most consisted of two rooms and a small area with a stove and sink, heated with one electric space heater or wood stove.
During their time in Stepanakert the group was also graciously received by the Prime Minister, Ara Haratounyan, the Mayor, Souren Grigoryan, and Sirpazan Barkev Mardirossyan as well as other officials and dignitaries, all of whom expressed their gratitude for our ten years of support to the Hanganak Clinic. As a result of these meetings, it was clear to the group that lack of resources to purchase fuel was a severe problem for the beneficiaries. To help address this problem, the Board of Directors for the last two years has sent a winter heating allotment to assist with fuel costs for the five coldest months of the year, November through March.
The AWWA volunteer evaluators completed their work secure in knowledge that the Hanganak Elderly Project fills important needs in the lives of Armenians who would otherwise be easily forgotten.
Visit the clinic's website at http://www.HanganakNGO.org