HOUSTON, Texas — In 2015, the Aleppo Compatriotic Charitable Organization (CCO) initiated and up to this day continues to implement the Save a Life program. The name of the program is self-explanatory — it indicates its vital role for the lives of Syrian Armenians. As a result of the catastrophic situation in Aleppo in 2015, a large group of members of the Syrian community settled in Armenia addressed the office of the Aleppo CCO. They requested help for their relatives left behind in Syria, who were facing financial and psychological hardship and were fighting for life. They suggested buying them each a one-way ticket to Armenia as a safe country.
Realizing the urgent need for such a program, the Aleppo CCO immediately initiated this life-saving program. In May 2015, the Aleppo CCO called upon Armenian benefactors in Armenia and the diaspora not to ignore the calls for help of those who found themselves in a difficult situation and support them within their abilities.
Responses to the call came from all over the world. It included the Parish Council of the St. Kevork Armenian Apostolic Church of Houston, Texas. Uniting people in the cause of providing humanitarian assistance, the Parish Council of the St. Kevork Armenian Apostolic Church of Houston, and in particular its chairman, Vreij Kolandjian, managed to secure tickets for 160 individuals, making it possible for them to leave the war zone for safety in Armenia.
Today, 130 Syrians who rediscovered the sense of safety and faith into a better future thanks to the goodwill of the Parish Council of the St. Kevork Armenian Apostolic Church of Houston, are slowly building their new lives in Armenia.
The Parish Council of the St. Kevork Armenian Apostolic Church stands by these families and contributes to their settlement in Armenia by also providing financial support. Another 30 individuals are getting ready to depart for Armenia these days.
The Executive Body of the Aleppo CCO expresses its deepest gratitude for the efforts of the Parish Council.
As far as the broader picture of the Save a Life program, as of July 2016, one-way tickets to Armenia were purchased with aid from benefactors in Armenia and throughout the world for a total of 251 Syrians. As a consequence, 221 Syrians have already moved to Armenia and settled there, while another 30 individuals are about to relocate to Armenia in the coming days. The cost of sending one person to Armenia via Beirut is $500.
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), proclaimed, “The Save a Life program supported by the Houston church is one of the most trustworthy efforts helping Syrian Armenians during their time of crisis. It is a wonderful project directly helping vulnerable individuals.”
Currently, there are 600 petitions at the Aleppo CCO, asking for help and assistance in moving to Armenia. Those who wish to support the Save a Life program can send a check made out to the St. Kevork Armenian Church, Memo: SOS Aleppo at 3211 Synott Road, Houston, TX 77082. The telephone number is 281-558-0166 (www.stkevork.org). All donations are tax deductible. Five hundred dollars can save one life.