The Gift of Mobility


Garine, 12, receives a walker, left, and an elliptical, right, for her physical therapy.

PTGHUNK, Armenia and SEAL BEACH, Calif. — The Armenian Lighthouse Charitable Foundation (ALCF), the organization formerly known as Paros “Lighthouse” Charitable Foundation, cares for the sick and injured who are marginalized and often forgotten. As part of its community outreach initiative, called Husi Jerag (Light of Hope), ALCF has given the gift of mobility to dozens of disabled children and adults throughout Armenia. This vital assistance is made possible with donations of wheelchairs, walkers and other equipment from ALCF supporters in the US. ALCF collects all forms of gently-used medical equipment on a year-round basis, and has a long waiting list of disabled children and adults in need of immediate assistance.

One recent beneficiary of ALCF’s outreach is Susanna, age 50, from Yerevan. Susanna was paralyzed from the neck down following an automobile accident that claimed the life of her husband. The accident occurred when Susanna and her husband had just spent a weekend with their son in Tavush where he was serving in the army. Following the accident, she spent two years in the hospital recuperating from her injuries. When her son returned from the army, the pressure and stress of caring for an invalid parent become too overwhelming for him, and he refused to see her. With the exception of a cousin who came once a day to feed her, Susanna was stranded and utterly alone.

A few months ago, ALCF learned about Susanna’s plight from the doctor who is treating her. ALCF staff quickly took action and brought her an electric wheelchair designed specifically for paraplegics. They also spent time with Susanna training her to operate the new chair. Because of this wheelchair, Susanna has a renewed feeling of independence with the ability to ride around her home and venture outdoors.

Garine, age 12, has also received the gift of mobility from Armenian Lighthouse Charitable Foundation. Garine was a healthy, active, young girl with a bright future. Without warning, one day she began to lose strength and movement in her legs. While her doctors have not been able to diagnose the cause, Garine’s mobility has been compromised. She can only walk holding someone’s hand and sways unsteadily from side to side.

Recently, Garine and her mother visited ALCF’s center in Ptghunk, and Garine was given a walker. The next day, her mother returned asking if the foundation could also provide some type of equipment to help strengthen Garine’s legs. ALCF gave her an elliptical, and Garine uses it for her own physical therapy. In the meantime, ALCF is working with Garine and her family to determine the cause of her disability. Gagik, age 55, lives in the Gegharkunik region and is a war veteran. During the war, he lost both of his legs in battle. Since sustaining his injuries, Gagik has fashioned a car for himself to control the accelerator and brake pedals with his hands. On a recent visit to ALCF’s center, Gagik received an electric wheelchair.

Delighted with this new piece of equipment, he treated the staff of ALCF to cognac and chocolate. ALCF provides the maintenance on all the equipment that it donates to needy individuals.

Husi Jerag offers desperately-needed services to the local community including vocational training, psychological counseling and therapy, sewing and cooking classes, women’s health services, feeding the poor and elderly, supporting a local kindergarten, weekly Bible study, family sponsorships and donations of essential goods to the needy in Armenia and Artsakh. In addition to Husi Jerag, ALCF operates a shelter for abused women and girls, with open doors to the children of these victims.

Zuhrab and Seta Ghazarian are the founders of Armenian Lighthouse Charitable Foundation. They have been engaged in charity work and community outreach for underprivileged and underserved Armenians since 1996. The idea grew out of their concern for at-risk Armenian women and children as well as preserving the integrity of the Armenian family. Armenian Lighthouse Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, public benefit corporation registered in the State of California and Republic of Armenia.

Donations are needed to advance this work. The organization invites travelers to Armenia to visit its 13,000 sq.-ft. complex in Ptghunk and witness first-hand its work.

Contributions to ALCF can be mailed to: PO Box 3595, Seal Beach, CA 90740.