Armenian Caritas is a charitable non-governmental organization, which has been established and is governed by Armenian Catholic Church.
The general president of Armenian Caritas is the Archbishop of Armenian Catholics of Armenia, Georgia, Russia and Eastern Europe (from 2011-His Exc. Raphael archbishop Minasyan).
Armenian Caritas is the expression of the social mission of Armenian Catholic Church, in other words, Armenian Caritas coordinates and carries out the social care for the people living in Armenia by means of financial assistance, social work, psychological, juridical consultation, educational, health, community development and other projects, provided and sponsored by Armenian Catholic Church.
Under the auspices of Armenian Catholic Church, Armenan Caritas implements its social projects with the help of qualified lay professionals who carry out their work in accordance with the principles of the Gospel, teaching of the Catholic Church and in appliance with the norms of social service, human rights, international law and the legislation of the Republic of Armenia.
Armenian Caritas whether in its staff or within its field of activities equally includes all the citizens of the RA and also foreigners and citizens of other countries of Armenian origin who have found a refuge in Armenia without religious, linguistic, social, national or other discriminations.
Armenian Caritas is one of the 160 member organizations of Confederation of Caritas Internationalis. Confederation of Caritas Internationalis and the member organizations of different countries of the world included in it, have been established and administrated by the Catholic Church, namely the Pope and the catholic bishops in union with him.
Statutes of Caritas Internationalis
Article 1.3. The specific task entrusted to Caritas Internationalis is to assist the Supreme Pontiff and the Bishops in their ministry of charity. Caritas Internationalis carries out this task by attending to the poorest and most needy, assisting in humanitarian emergencies, and helping to spread charity and justice in the world in the light of the Gospel and of the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Article 6. The main duties of the Member Organizations are:a) in all their activities, including those concerned with international cooperation and partnership, to comply with Catholic teaching, canon law, and the requirements of the competent ecclesial authorities.
“Caritas is an important part of the Church, it is the institutional expression of love in Church and it has two sides-deeds and divine-and, accordingly, it is in the very heart of the Church. Caritas is the care of the Church towards the people”, His Holiness Pope Francis.
“Caritas and all the charitable actions connected with the Church are schools of faith in practice and evangelization”, His Holiness Benedict XVI
The activity of Armenian Caritas in Armenia
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 has 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. Armenian Caritas serves 150,000 people every year through some 40 programmes, including 9 permanent centres in 5 provinces (Shirak, Lori, Gegharkunik, Ararat and the City of Yerevan). That represents more than 5% of the country’s total population and over 11% of the total amount of poor (37% of the population) in the country. These impressive figures are achieved with just 200 staff members and 80 volunteers. These remarkable achievements have profiled Armenian Caritas as the provider of high quality social and health services to the poor in Armenia.
The activity of Armenian Caritas has the following 6 strategic directions:
Social Protection of vulnerable groups (children, elderly, people with disabilities);
Migration, Integration and Prevention of Trafficking;
Advocacy, Communication and Network collaboration;
Emergency Preparedness and Response.
The present Executive Director of Armenian Caritas is Mr. Gagik Tarasyan, the Programs’ Officer is Mrs. Anahit Gevorgian.
You can get more detailed information on the website: http://www.caritas.am/hy and in the section of Diocesan News of our web-site.