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With what is the Rafaël Foundation concerned? The Rafaël Foundation is an independent charity organisation, which endeavours to collect money in order to offer direct care to children in need or distress living in Armenia.
Why this attention to Armenia just now? While situated at the very eastern border of our own wealthy Europe if you please, Armenia is a “forgotten” developing country, where much hidden poverty exists. Youth hardly has a future there and the situation of destitute children in particular is simply without any prospect.
What happens with my gift to the Rafaël Foundation? The money is used directly to mitigate medical distress of these Armenian children. Think of the purchase of medecine and medical aids and appliances. Medical care in Armenia is staggering expensive and for the majority of Armenians priceless or unobtainable, notably for ill children of single-parent families.
Who are the founders of “Rafaël” and how is the Foundation organized? After a visit to Armenia in 2002, a few socially prompted Limburgers became deeply impressed with the hopeless situation in which the poor and ill children of Armenia find themselves. The founder, in April 2002, was the late Frans van Hellemondt, who decided with his companions for a very lean organisational structure in order to minimize expenses and to maximize the effective amount of money for the benefit of the proper cause.
*Suren Karian is Armenian by birth; he fled in 1993 to the Netherlands and became Dutch citizen in 1999.
How will I know that the Foundation is trustworthy? The Foundation’s financial conduct is under direct and permanent scrutiny of an acknowledged auditor, who verifies the books and certifies the annual returns with an official statement of approval. More over the Foundation publishes a semi-annual report of her overall activities to which once a year a detailed account of her financial conduct is added also. As a matter of course the Foundation is further registered with the chamber of commerce and the Dutch Inland Revenue under number 8107.81.670.
In which effective way can I support the Rafaël Foundation? There are basically two possibilities:
Why the name “Rafaël”? Rafaël is the name of the guardian archangel, patron of all travellers. He guards in particular over their health. The literal meaning of the name is “The Lord Heals” and the archangel was thus bestowed with the power to cure illness and distress of mankind. And with the aid of your donations and gifts you allow the Foundation to honour on your behalf the promise this name incites to.
Where is Armenia located Armenia today is situated south of the Caucasus, in the shadow of the famous Mount Ararat; converted to Christianity since A.D. 300, nevertheless landlocked by four Muslim states: Iran, Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. In surface area it has about the size of the Netherlands. Not so long ago Armenia formed part of the former Soviet Union. Only since 1991 is Armenia independent again. Officially it is a presidential republic with a free elected parliament. However to a western conception there is nothing of the sort of a thriving democracy. To the opposition parties practically no room is left.
What makes Armenia such a poor country? Wars and other catastrophes such as earthquakes is the answer. In antiquity, many ages B.C. Armenia is said to have been a prosperous and leading nation, comparable to ancient Greece, in virtue of which it is considered as cradle of the occidental civilisation. Various famous relics still recall to mind a rich and wealthy culture. In the 20th century however this nation found itself at the mercy of all sorts of conflicts in the Caucasian region. And during the First World War total extinction of the people loomed large on account of the genocide campaign by the Turks. Numerous Armenians were deported, many others fled and were scattered to the four winds. The violent conflict about the Armenian enclave Nagorno Karabakh in Azerbaijan, also has lead to immense hardship and great flows of fugitives.
How is it with the Armenian people today? The cynical thing is that on account of all the misery encountered in the last century, more Armenians live outside Armenia then inside the country itself. At present the republic counts just over 3 million inhabitants while on conservative estimate almost 5 million Armenians live in Diaspora. The Armenian community in the Netherlands counts approximately 5000 people.
What makes Armenia so vulnerable? Native natural means of living hardly exist. A great number of goods including foodstuffs have to be imported, usually via badly kept country roads. Added to that Armenia has no open links to the sea, power and water supply are poorly organized and medical care needs vast improvement. Though reliable figures are difficult to come by, it is definitely established that the country struggles with robust foreign debts, so that in their daily subsistence the common folk above all suffers from high inflation.
How does the Armenian cope with his poverty stricken situation? The Armenian will do the best he can and traditionally will demonstrate to a foreign guest his warm heart and generous hospitality. An outsider will see few signs of his poor circumstances. Fortunately the communal spirit is great and one tries to assist each other as much as possible. However for the destitute children this relief falls short, because medical care and treatment in the Armenian context are exceptionally expensive. That is why the effort of the Rafaël Foundation and the financial support of her benefactors are so essential.