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History of Armenian Caritas

In May 1995, the Armenian Catholic Church,headed by Msgr. Nerses Archb. Der-Nersessian, the Gyumri-based Ordinary of Armenian Catholics in Armenia, Georgia, and Eastern Europe, founded Armenian Caritas in Gyumri, Shirak region.

In 1996, a Board of Directors, consisting of a president and six other members, was established and given the task of formulating the strategy of the organization and supervising its implementation.The organization was officially recognized by the Armenian Ministry of Justice as a local NGO in 1997. Since 1999, Armenian Caritas has become a full member of Caritas Internationalis. It is also an affiliated member of Caritas Europa and ICMC (International Catholic Migration Commission).

In May of 2004, Msgr. Nerses Archb. Der-Nersessian retired, and was replaced as president by Msgr. Neshan Archb. Garakeheyan, the current ordinary of Armenian Catholics in Armenia, Georgia and Eastern Europe.His Excellency Garakeheyan was an important founder of the organization, and he has greatly assisted Armenian Caritas during its periods of establishment and development.

The first projects of Armenian Caritas were merely of a relief nature, providing basic assistance to their beneficiaries. In January of 1998, the Armenian Caritas Board of Directors elected to begin the implementation of community-based development programs. However, in order to diversify the organization’s programmatic base, its institutional capacity needed to be strengthened. This was achieved through the assistance of CRS/Armenia and CORDAID/The Netherlands.

The first activities of Armenian Caritas were merely of a relief nature; the first programs Caritas Armenia became involved in were exclusively assistance projects. In January 1998 Armenian Caritas Board of Directors decided to start the implementation of community-based development programs. In order to diversify the programmatic base for AC, the institutional capacity needed to be increased and strengthened. CRS/Armenia and CORDAID/The Netherlands, assisted AC in that process.

The two year "AC Institutional Capacity Building" program (1998/1999) enabled Caritas to set up a new office,covered all administrative and management costs, offered support and training opportunities to the staff, and introduced the principle of "Community Development/Participation" as an operational strategy through Water and Sanitation and Parent School Partnership projects. Armenian Caritas became better equipped to respond to the needs of the local population and grew more prepared to face future challenges.

Armenian Caritas has since extended its humanitarian and development activities to other areas of the country apart from Shirak region, operating in the regions of Lori and Gegharkunik, as well as Yerevan City.

Today, Armenian Caritas boasts a solid institutional base, with a clearly defined mission and strategic direction.More importantly, it maintains a strong potential for growth in order to serve its beneficiaries at an increasing capacity.

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