Many of you have likely heard of the current situation plaguing Armenia and neighboring Nagorno-Karabakh, a region where hundreds of thousands of Armenians call home. On September 27, 2020, Azerbaijan launched violent attacks on Karabakh (also known as Artsakh) and these vicious strikes have only worsened, targeting Armenian civilians and propelling Armenia’s military to act. Like many others in our community, these attacks have left me both heartbroken and driven to help.
As many of our friends and supporters know, the Armenian EyeCare Project was born out of crisis in Armenia. As Founder and President of this nearly 30-year-old organization, I think to the dark days of the original Nagorno-Karabakh War. At this time, Armenia’s healthcare system was overwhelmed with countless soldiers and civilians terribly wounded from war. Yet the country’s physicians lacked the latest medical knowledge and resources to deliver the care that was needed.
Then, in 1992, a call came from Armenia’s Ministry of Health for help. I knew I had a duty as a physician and as an Armenian to do my part and help my ancestral homeland fight the growing wave of injuries, some leading to blindness, that was a direct result of this destructive war. One week later, I was on a flight to Armenia, for the very first time, with thousands of dollars of medical equipment and the will to help. This was the start of the Armenian EyeCare Project.
Since that time, our organization has developed several state-of-the-art programs and facilities in Armenia that work. Our Mobile Eye Hospital – literally a surgical suite on wheels – travels throughout Armenia to offer eye care at no cost to the country’s most vulnerable citizens. Our Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Childhood Blindness combats eye disease for infants and children. And our Regional Eye Clinics establish eye clinics in regions throughout Armenia where they are needed most. Two of these clinics – the Haig Boyadjian AECP Regional Eye Clinic in Ijevan and the AECP Kapan Regional Eye Clinic in Kapan – are located in regions bordering Karabakh and our fifth Regional Eye Clinic, opening later this month in Yeghegnadzor, is also near the border.
Through all these initiatives, the Armenian EyeCare Project has helped transform Armenia’s eye care delivery system from one of complete despair to that of progress, hope and medical excellence. When Armenia needed us most, we responded. And through your generous support, so did you!
Armenia called on us at the height of the war with Azerbaijan in the early 1990s and sadly we are facing the perils of war once more. A new generation of young Armenian soldiers are on the frontlines defending Armenia, Karabakh and its people. We, the Diaspora and the greater humanitarian community, are the fortunate ones. We have the means to help and we are.
With your continued support and commitment, the Armenian EyeCare Project has been able to build clinics, train local physicians and establish one of the best sustainable eye care diagnostic and surgical staffs known in the Caucasus. These resources will soon be pushed to their limits as attacks from Azerbaijan continue with each passing day. We will be faced with a daunting number of patients – both soldiers and civilians – who will need care and humanitarian services. The need for medical equipment, supplies and medicine is enormous. As we put all our efforts into providing critical assistance for this conflict, we realize that many of the resources needed are finite and we face insurmountable costs.
We are extraordinarily grateful for your support throughout our decades of service in Armenia. Your help is even more critical during these most difficult of times. The dire situation in Armenia and Karabakh leaves us all looking for ways to offer a helping hand. We have worked tirelessly through the years to build channels of distribution and relationships with Armenia’s Ministry of Health to ensure that help gets to where it is needed most. Our promise to our team in Armenia is to get them all that they need to secure aid, medication and supplies to the soldiers and civilians affected by this turbulent war.
Your help is needed now more than ever. Armenia and its people are strong but we are stronger together.
With Immense Gratitude,
Roger V. Ohanesian, M.D.
Founder and President
Armenian EyeCare Project