Hripsime Hambaryan: “The establishment of the Armenian community of Domodedovo has led to a national awakening”

The Armenians of the Domodedovo region of Moscow have their own “small Armenia” where they can be in an Armenian environment and feel the air of the Homeland.

Since the establishment of the Adana Armenian National and Cultural Community, the Armenians of Domodedovo have been active and excited as never before, and Hayern Aysor’s correspondent talked  about this with the chairperson of the community’s women’s council Hripsime Hambaryan.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Hambaryan, you have dedicated yourself to carrying out the pro-national task of preserving the Armenian identity. Had you thought about establishing this community for a long time?

Hripsime Hambaryan: The community was established two months ago, but it is still in the process of formation. My husband, Aghasi Hambaryan was elected president. We have been living in Domodedovo for many years, enjoy respect and have a good reputation. We have put in all our efforts to instill in our sons the feeling of patriotism and provide them with an Armenian upbringing, and our efforts weren’t in vain. They are very attached to Armenia and visit the Homeland often.

My younger son missed Armenia so much during his years of study in Dubai that he had posted an Armenian flag along the entire length of the wall of his dormitory.

My family and I help all Armenians with open arms and are always active in the community. Twenty years ago, I opened an architectural and construction firm and provided jobs for hundreds of Armenian families. Perhaps this is the reason why the leaders of the community trusted us.

There was no Armenian community in Domodedovo back then. The local Armenians would simply collaborate with each other.

I have a two-hectare plot of land. We wanted to erect a building on that land so that young Armenians could meet and have the opportunity to discuss their issues of concern. We wanted to create a place for the local Armenians to gather and to disseminate Armenian culture, especially among young Armenians.

We have opened an Armenian Sunday school. Throughout its short existence, the school has already enrolled 100 students. The school offers Armenian language and literature lessons and courses devoted to Armenian history. It also has a choir, dance group and sport club.

Due to the rise in the number of students, we didn’t have enough textbooks. I addressed the RA Ministry of Diaspora with this issue. The employees were very kind and solved the issue very quickly.

The community is also growing, and people visit us with joy and pleasure. It is safe to say that there is an awakening within the community.

Hayern Aysor: Will there be an official opening ceremony?

Hripsime Hambaryan: The official opening ceremony will be held on November 25. We have invited representatives of the municipal authorities, as well as representatives of the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in the Russian Federation, the Municipality of Domodedovo and members of the Armenian Women’s Association of Russia.

On that day, we will also hold the exhibition entitled “Armenia: Love at First Sight”. We wil introduce the guests to Armenia and Armenian culture through photos, Armenian national dishes, as well as music and literature. Everyone will be in an Armenian environment. With this exhibition, we want to help the Russians learn about the centuries-old history of the Armenian people.

Hayern Aysor: You are also the chairperson of the community’s women’s council. What is the union involved in?

Hripsime Hambaryan: After we established the community, we decided to distribute labor in order to facilitate and coordinate our activities. Currently, we have departments for culture, education, youth affairs and more. And yes, I became the chairperson of the women’s council.

My goal is to have the Armenian women of not only Domodedovo, but also all parts of Moscow come together and hep each other. I think we can achieve results through cooperation with the Armenian Women’s Association of Russia. We are in close collaboration with President of the Association Armine Arakelyan.

Generally, being the businesswoman that I am, I know many Armenian women who have achieved high positions in business, and I take pride in them. In Domodedovo, Armenian women are good mothers, are concerned about their children’s Armenian education and upbringing and do everything they can to make sure their children grow up as dignified Armenians in a foreign environment.

They are also very active within the community and help us a lot.

Hayern Aysor: During the Four-Day Artsakh War, all Armenians of the Diaspora rose to their feet and stood united as one to help Artsakh and Armenian soldiers. What did the Armenians of Domodedovo do?

Hripsime Hambaryan: We also provided our support to Artsakh. We quickly combined our efforts to decide what we were going to do. All the men, especially young men decided that, if necessary, they would go to Artsakh as volunteers and join Armenian soldiers defending the border.

One of the members of our big family, who is originally from Artsakh, visited Artsakh where he met with different officials and held discussions in order to understand what he could do to help. We also provided material and other forms of assistance.

To help Artsakh, we have decided to open a fund for the Armenians of Domodedovo to transfer as much money as they can. Every month, we will send the raised funds to the needy families and disabled soldiers of Artsakh.

Hayern Aysor: During your visit to Armenia, you also had a meeting with RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan. How would you assess that meeting?

Hripsime Hambaryan: I had a very interesting and productive meeting with RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan. I had met her on two different occasions, but this meeting was totally different. We discussed issues on more active participation of the Armenian community in the programs of the Ministry and future cooperation. Hranush Hakobyan gave me important advice and encouraged me to organize the activities within the newly established community. We agreed to send the teachers of our school to Armenia to participate in the “Diaspora” Summer School Program and the Training Course for Teachers of Armenian Language and History and Organizers of Education, and to send young Armenian students to participate in the “Ari Tun” Program

Upon the Minister’s proposal, the community will declare the year 2017 as the Year of Artsakh and will be dedicating all events to Artsakh. I really liked the idea of the “What are YOU doing for Karabakh?” pan-Armenian movement. When I return to Domodedovo, I will spread the word about the movement and do my best to show active participation.

Interview by Gevorg Chichyan

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