The Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief (SOAR) was founded in the fall of 2005 as a charitable organization that provides humanitarian relief to orphaned children living in Armenia. SOAR’s Executive Board Chairman provides oversight and guidance to all SOAR operations worldwide. In early 2006, an experienced and talented Board of Directors was assembled, a network of Partners in Armenia was recruited to assist with distributions, and the web site was launched. Between 2006 and 2008, SOAR established itself as the only charitable organization whose singular mission is to provide humanitarian assistance to orphaned Armenians around the world. In late 2007 and early 2008, SOAR launched its first two Chapters – in Los Angeles and Washington, DC. In 2009, a National Board of Trustees was created to annually review SOAR’s fiscal operations and distributions. In 2010, SOAR launched its Sponsorship Fund, which today is the primary mechanism through which micro-level children’s needs are addressed. Since 2005, SOAR’s work has impacted thousands of children, with the penultimate goal to provide institutionalized children with the same educational, emotional, medical, and social support as their non-institutionalized counterparts.
In 2016, SOAR expanded its mission, recognizing that, after a decade of helping children in residential settings, it was necessary to take the proactive step of attempting to reduce the institutionalized orphan population in Armenia. Toward that end, SOAR established its Services to Children in their Own Home (SCOH) Fund. The SCOH Fund works with residential institutions to deinstitutionalize and reunify children with biological families and provides home-based services after reunification to reduce the economic, social, emotional, and professional barriers within the family dynamic that may trigger reinstitutionalization.
Represented by 145 Chapters, 5 Junior groups, and more than 600 volunteers worldwide, SOAR supports 36 orphanages, special boarding schools, day centers, summer camps, and transitional centers – in Armenia, Artsakh, Javakh, Lebanon, and Syria. SOAR prides itself on collaboration, creativity, cross-cultural respect, fiscal responsibility, loyalty, and transparency. During the past 15 years, SOAR’s work has grown considerably. In 2006, distributions totaled approximately $60,000. Since 2015, SOAR has exceeded $1M distributions annually. SOAR’s efforts not only address the major humanitarian constructs of education, emotional and psychological support, nutrition, health and hygiene, dental and vision care, and fundamental human rights, but the Programs offer educational curricula on a multitude of topics that stimulate intellectual curiosity, empowerment, and enrichment.
Given COVID restrictions, the SOAR Dental Clinic operated on a limited basis in the fourth quarter of 2020. A total of 46 children (boys and girls) were seen in the clinic. These children were not only from the orphanages in Gyumri, but from the local community and children displaced from the Artsakh War. Seven extractions were done.
The Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief (SOAR) provides humanitarian relief to orphaned Armenian children and adults with disabilities throughout the world. Working with a trusted network of in-country staff and a cadre of global volunteers, SOAR provides this institutionalized population with the same educational and social opportunities as their non-institutionalized counterparts while simultaneously facilitating family empowerment, deinstitutionalization, and reunification.
The Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief (SOAR) Dental Clinic (Gyumri, Armenia) provides free dental services to orphaned and otherwise institutuonalized children and to the elderly in Gyumri. Since its inception, the Clinic has provided gfree dental services to hundred of children and senior citizens in Gyumri, Armenia.
The Dental Clinic was closed in Armenia because of COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic. No services have been provided since the middle of March 2020. Our hope is to reopen the clinic as soon as possible, but Armenia is still in lockdown. We anticipate reopening by September 2020.
Cavities are the most prevalent chronic disease among children in Armenia. The impact of the disease is reflected throughout life and affects health, employment, and quality of life. Cavities usually require intervention by health personnel to correct the resulting problems. These resources can be expensive, are subject to limited availability, and carry a significant cost to any health system. Studies have shown that:
• The average 5-year old child in Armenia has eight decayed, missing or filled primary teeth;
• Between the ages of 14 and 17 years old, the average child continues to experience dental decay at the rate of one permanent tooth per year;
• Almost 90% of all 12-year-old children have cavities; and,
• Only 20% of Armenian 18-year-olds still have all of their teeth.
To address dental hygiene issues among the orphaned children in Armenia, SOAR's Dental Clinic was established to provide free dental services to all institutionalized childre in Gyumri. In January 2020, 38 children were serviced at the clinic, including basic cleanings and several extractions.
Cavities are the most prevalent chronic disease among children in Armenia. Empirical studies have documented that: 1) the average 5-year old child in Armenia has eight decayed, missing or filled primary teeth; 2) between the ages of 14 and 17 years old, the average child continues to experience dental decay at the rate of one permanent tooth per year; 3) almost 90% of all 12-year-old children in Armenia have cavities; and, 4) only 20% of Armenian 18-year-olds still have all of their teeth. Unquestionably, dental hygiene problems are more problematic among institutionalized children.
To address these dental issues, SOAR’s Dental Fund was created in September 2015 and is overseen by a team of dental experts. The Fund has three primary components:
1. Dental clinic construction. SOAR constructs and outfits dental suites and clinics to offer the orphaned children in Armenia consistent and quality access to dental care. A dental suite was renovated at Kharberd Orphanage and a dental clinic was constructed at the Our Lady of Armenia (OLA) Center in Gyumri. The Gyumri Clinic provides free dental services to the elderly and all orphaned children free of charge.
2. Recruiting dental professionals to volunteer at the OLA Summer Camp. The OLA Camp is held in Tsaghgadzor annually for approximately 12 weeks. During each of four (4) 16-day sessions, approximately 200 orphaned and otherwise underprivileged children visit the Camp. Overseen by SOAR-Detroit, we actively seek dentists and dental assistants who are able to volunteer for at least one week each summer.
3. Procure dental supplies. Our Dental Fund experts identify outlets for humanitarian donations of dental supplies. When appropriate, these goods are procured and shipped to Armenia.
Between September and November 2019, SOAR's Dental Clinic in Gyumri provided services to 202 children from Gyumri Social Childcare Center, Little Prince, the Our Lady of Armenia Center, Orphanage of Fridtjof Nansen, and the greater Gyumri community. A relative even distribution of patients by gender was appreciated. Most of the children were seen for basic treatments (cleanings), although there were also several extractions.
Cavities are the most prevalent chronic disease among children in Armenia. Empirical studies have documented that: 1) the average 5-year old child in Armenia has eight decayed, missing or filled primary teeth; 2) between the ages of 14 and 17 years old, the average child continues to experience dental decay at the rate of one permanent tooth per year; 3) almost 90% of all 12-year-old children in Armenia have cavities; and, 4) only 20% of Armenian 18-year-olds still have all of their teeth. Unquestionably, dental hygiene problems are more problematic among institutionalized children. To address these dental issues, SOAR’s Dental Fund was created in September 2015 and is overseen by a team of dental experts.
Forty-nine (49) children were seen at the Dental Clinic in July 2019 (the Clinic closes in August). The children came from the greater Gyumri community and from the following institutions: Gyumri Social Childcare Center, Nansen Orphanage, and Our Lady of Armenia Center. With the exception of three (3) extractions, all of the children had regular cleanings.
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