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Black Tie International: The Fund for Armenian Relief

Fund for Armenian Relief


Margaret Ajemian Ahnert during her visit to Armenia in April 2010

Margaret Ajemian Ahnert during her visit to Armenia in April 2010


The Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR)  Announce Launch of the Margaret Ajemian Ahnert Scholarship Program
in Memory of Ester Ajemian


NEW YORK — The Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) is pleased to announce the launch of the Margaret Ajemian Ahnert Scholarship Program in Memory of Ester Ajemian. This program will specifically support and empower aspiring female journalists by providing the opportunity to receive the education and training they need. This scholarship, established in the memory of the genocide survivor Ester Minerajian/Ajemian/by Ester’s daughter Margaret Ajemian Ahnert, will help foster the next generation of women who will lead the way in the Armenian press. 
The scholarship fund, administered by FAR, will provide full tuition and monthly stipends to female graduate students in Armenia who are pursuing careers in journalism. Ms. Ahnert, herself a media specialist, worked for years as a television producer and a teacher before publishing her first book The Knock at the Door: A Journey Through the Darkness of the Armenian Genocide, which is based on her mother Ester Ahronian-Minerajian-Ajemian’s memories of the 1915 genocide, its unprecedented horrors, and her escape.  
After Ester Minerajian/Ajemian found refuge in the United States, she strove to inform future generations about the dark page in human history from which she managed to survive. Her daughter was no exception, and throughout her life Ester recounted her experiences to her own child. Weaving Ester’s stories with her own narrative, Margaret Ahnert published The Knock at the Door in 2007 to widespread critical acclaim. It won the Humanitarian Award and the 2008 New York Book Fair Award for Best Historic Memoir. While recounting tragic historic events, the book also reads like a fascinating novel. The Knock at the Door is a powerfully emotive tale of a young girl’s painful and unimaginable experience. It has been translated into several languages; FAR made it possible for the book to be translated into Armenian earlier this year. 
Ms. Ahnert traveled to Armenia in April. She presented her award-winning book during a ceremony organized by FAR at the Armenian Genocide Museum on the eve of the 95th anniversary of the genocide. Ms. Ahnert‘s book is a sacred relic and a tool with which the story of this tragedy can be passed along through generations, a reminder to the world that such horrors took place and should not be forgotten. 
While in Armenia, Margaret had an opportunity to get closely acquainted with FAR’s work. She was particularly moved by FAR’s educational programs, which are aimed at Armenia’s youth. She also visited the Gavar #1 Special School, which provides education to 90 children with mental and physical disabilities. She spent some time at the FAR’s Homeless Children Center, which has been operating for more than ten years and plays vital role in the assistance of at-risk children. During her visit, Ms. Ahnert donated modern computers to both institutions that will be used for special educational programs for these underprivileged children.
Margaret returned to the United States with the desire to do more. Although Ester Minerajian/Ajemian had never been fortunate enough to attend a university, she was a self-educated woman who placed a high value on learning. Strong and determined, she also believed that all females deserved educational opportunity. This scholarship program will bring that hope to fruition.
Such a scholarship also speaks to Ms. Ahnert‘s expertise in the media and her value of the press and its integral role in strengthening Armenia’s civil society. She believes in professional journalists and in the important role they play as the voice of Armenia’s people. As creator of this fund, Margaret has followed in her mother’s footsteps, carrying on her legacy in a way that will not only empower Armenian women, but also strengthen the Armenian press, and ultimately the nation as a whole.
“My mother suffered many hardships in her life and appeared in severe situations where there seemed to be no solution. She survived and was inspired with power to live by the hope and belief towards tomorrow’s day. I will try to enhance this hope in the children of Armenia within my possibilities,” Mrs. Ahnert said.
This is the first time FAR has had a scholarship program geared toward Armenian women who are pursuing careers in journalism and media. This program adds to FAR’s many other successful scholarship programs, which enable young Armenians to pursue training and education in the fields of medicine, engineering, and music, among others. It is a prime example of how FAR is working in solidarity with members of the Diaspora to create opportunity and strengthen the intellectual capital of the Armenian people.
“Carving out educational opportunities for Armenia’s youth is an integral part of FAR’s mission. Education has always been prized in a small country like Armenia as a key to maintaining cultural identity and heritage,” said FAR’s Executive Director Garnik Nanagoulian. “We are extremely happy with Ms. Ahnert‘s innovative and visionary program, and look forward to working with her to support the development of the new generation of Armenia’s journalistic corps.”

About FAR

Since its founding in response to the 1988 earthquake, FAR has served hundreds of thousands of people through more than 220 relief and development programs in Armenia and Karabagh. It has channeled more than $285 million in humanitarian assistance by implementing a wide range of projects including emergency relief, construction, education, medical aid, and economic development.

Fund for Armenian Relief
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Phone (212) 889-5150


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