by Ani Janbazian, DMD
In our Motherland Armenia and Karabagh, most of our Armenian brothers and sisters are still going through economic crises, where families are struggling with unemployment, poor living conditions and are counting each penny hoping for better days ahead. That small glimmer of hope for some though, comes once a year during the time when the world celebrates the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Summer Camp/Christmas Committee of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) has made it their mission to come together, putting their time, effort, love and passion to organize an annual fundraiser and raise monetary support for their struggling Armenian little brothers and sisters, so that they too, do not miss out on the celebrations during the Christmas season.

Founded in 1999, the AMAA Summer Camp/Christmas Committee has one simple vision: to bring joy and Christ’s love to Armenian youth and children during the Christmas season. Each year, the Committee holds a “Christmas in October” event, to raise funds for the AMAA and the Evangelical Church of Armenia (ECA) to plan and organize Christmas Programs in different towns and cities throughout Armenia, Karabagh and Georgia. The proceeds of the 2009 “Christmas in October” fundraiser was over $40,000.

During this past Christmas, AMAA/ECA Armenia organized 48 Christmas programs in 50 locations for more than 10,000 people. The halls were festively decorated with balloons, lights and Christmas trees. Children and youth celebrated Christ’s birth with singing, dancing and enjoying a live drama depicting the story of the Nativity. Christmas Joy Packages were given to each child to take home, which were prepared by the AMAA Armenia office.

These Christmas programs are the only time for many of these children to come together in a joyous environment, to learn about the story of the birth of Jesus and receive a Christmas present, which for some, might be the only gift they receive throughout the year. Anyone who witnesses the faces of these children during their time of celebration, understands the importance of these Christmas programs and sees the immense joy it brings to the lives of not just the children, but to their families as well. This is the fruition of the dedication and loving efforts of the AMAA’s Summer Camp/Christmas Committee and their vision becoming a reality, which is evident in the eyes and smiles of the Armenian children living in our Motherland.