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Fifty years of eradicating poverty in the Middle East

Jinishian Memorial Program seeks to break cycles of poverty and despair

by Eliza Minasyan | Mission Crossroads

Thousands of Armenians from Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) fled for their lives with just the clothes on their backs following Azerbaijan’s surprise missile attacks. The Jinishian Memorial Program partnered with other relief organizations to provide shelter, food, warm clothing and blankets to the refugees, mostly women and children, who scattered throughout Armenia. Men stayed behind to fight for their homeland. (Photo courtesy of JMP)

In 2020, the price of bread doubled in Syria and the price of imported goods such as rice and sugar increased by 400%. The Jinishian Memorial Program provided coupons to 871 families to make food more affordable.

“If the Jinishian Memorial Program weren’t here with us, what would we do?” a desperate mother in Syria recently asked a JMP staff member.

More than a half century ago, Vartan Jinishian, an Armenian American, heard cries of desperation from this earliest Christian nation as well. These cries came from the Armenian diaspora, who scattered for self-preservation following the Ottoman-steered 1915 genocide of more than 1.5 million Armenians.

Through a bequest to honor his parents, Jinishian set out to help his people by founding the Jinishian Memorial Program and entrusting his legacy gift to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) through a charitable trust.

JMP supports Armenian communities at seven sites in the Republic of Armenia and four countries in the Middle East. The aim is to break the cycle of poverty and despair, leading to self-sufficiency and hope. JMP does this by providing basic humanitarian needs and spiritual uplift, along with tools to become self-reliant. Medical, social and employment assistance programs assist in areas where governmental social services are deficient or nonexistent. Holistic programs, such as vocational education, debate clubs and summer camps, assist and inspire children and youth.

The Jinishian Memorial Program distributed masks to all Syrian schools in Aleppo, Damascus, Kamishly, Lattakia and Kessab so that students could safely continue their education. (Photo courtesy of JMP)

JMP’s health programs help pay for prescriptions, tests, treatments and surgeries. Health programs assist people like Sarkis, a Syrian man who could not afford knee surgery. He thought he would never walk again or be able to support his family.

At-risk teenage girls in Lebanon and Istanbul are given the chance for a better life through vocational education and community development programs. JMP helped Rita, a teen who lived on the edge of homelessness for most of her life. Through guidance and support in counseling and group sessions, she earned a technical college diploma, putting her on the path to a career instead of homelessness.

JMP is a recognized leader for its economic and development programs in Armenia. These programs empower youth to take part in the development of their country, help start-up entrepreneurs succeed and equip people in rural areas to create economic opportunities in their own communities.

Through God’s grace, local JMP teams help improve the lives of 100,000 people a year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, JMP assisted people trying to survive the harshest conditions: an economic collapse in Syria, a recession and an explosion in Lebanon, and a 44-day war in Artsakh. JMP swiftly acted to bring much-needed humanitarian aid — while continuing its mission to target the root causes of poverty by supporting our brothers and sisters, so they can live with dignity.

Eliza Minasyan is executive director of the Jinishian Memorial Program.

MAKE AN IMPACT
Gifts to the Jinishian Memorial Program assist individuals and families in Armenia and the Middle East:
pcusa.org/donate/E051792


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