Very early yesterday morning, a major fire broke out on the second floor of Mari Izmirlyan Orphanage. Mari Izmirlyan, located in Yerevan, houses approximately 100 special needs children. Thankfully, none of the children were hurt. While we are still receiving information about the extent of the fire and the needs of the orphanage going forward, we do know that the 42 children who occupied the second floor have been relocated.
Those who have read SOAR's email blasts over the years may be familiar with my husband George Yacoubian's writing style. However, with Sunday's fire at Mari Izmirlyan, I felt compelled to write all of you. Some of you, like me, may not be Armenian. Others may be Armenian, but have not been to Armenia. Others may have visited Armenia, but not seen the orphanages. I presume only a small proportion of you have not only visited the country but also the orphan institutions within. For those in this group, I know you can understand what my words hope to convey.
My heart and mind start with the already devastating fact that these children do not know family the way many of us do. Already heartbreaking, I can't shake what I have seen in the many trips we took to Armenia to visit our daughter while we waited for her to be able to come home - the cold cement walls, the caving ceilings, and the mildew-stained, broken down common bathrooms. That is why this news about the fire has left me significantly more heartbroken for these children. To lose what little they had is one thing. What's even harder to imagine is the trauma these children endured - losing what little they had and not being able to seek comfort in a hug from their father or reassuring words from their mother. They can't move in with family while repairs are made. There is no hotel to check into. They can't count on repairs being made efficiently. I write this email blast to ask for any help you can provide, not just for the renovation of a building but also for the rejuvenation of their spirits. In addition to any tangible donation you consider, we welcome any guidance from those that have experience helping others through something like this, and of course, as many prayers as you can spare.
If you would like to assist Mari Izmirlyan Orphanage, online donations can be made through PayPal at http://soar-us.org/ (designate SOAR-National) or checks can be mailed to the above address. If you have any questions, please call us at 610.213.3452.
With all of our thanks,
Erica Carraro Yacoubian