A group of medical professionals are due to leave Fresno Yosemite International Airport on Saturday morning, traveling halfway around the world to help those in need.
They had originally planned to leave on Friday only to have their flight cancelled.
This is Fresno’s seventh medical mission to Armenia, organized by Armenian Honorary Consul Berj Apkarian. Every year since 2015 (in the absence of the pandemic year 2020), a group of volunteers travels to Armenia to provide aid.
“With the recent aggression of Azeris and the attack of a sovereign nation, it has fueled our energy to do even more and give more. And I tell you, I am so proud of our community,” Apkarian told l airport on Friday before the canceled flight.
(Watch) Armenian medical mission is ready to help
The purpose of this year’s trip is to help injured soldiers and others affected by the recent military skirmishes with Azerbaijan, Apkarian said.
Apkarian’s employer, Community Health Systems, is helping fund the trip.
The 16-strong Fresno group will join 17 other medical professionals across the country for two weeks. They also bring medicine and supplies. The combined delegation will include surgeons, dentists, pediatricians and physiotherapists.
A desire to give back
“I think that’s why we all went into this profession, physiotherapy. We wanted to help or help people in some way. We have this altruistic characteristic. — Kristina Koroyan
Several members of the delegation say the nearly 20-hour trip from Fresno to Dallas, Doha, Qatar, Yerevan, Armenia is well worth it.
Kristina Koroyan is a therapist at Sanger Physical Therapy. This is his third trip.
“The need there is a lot of hands-on work. I think with the injuries that we saw, individuals were then given the right exercises or the right protocols to follow after a certain injury. So I think our role is to educate them as much as possible,” Koroyan said.
She also hopes to train therapists in Armenia.
“I think that’s why we all went into this profession, physiotherapy. We wanted to help or help people in some way. We have this altruistic trait, I guess,” Koroyan said.
For Clovis’ dentist, Dr. Vatche Wassilian, it’s about giving back. He is originally from Lebanon and attended medical school in Armenia.
“That’s the spirit of the United States. That’s what we’ve learned here from this great country. … to help when there are people who need help,” Wassilian said. “Now is the time to go. When you’re lucky because people, they need us. (Armenia) needs us.
Karbassi in official business
Fresno Councilman Mike Karbassi will join medical professionals on the trip. Besides showing his support, he has official business.
“(Armenia) wants to have an economic exchange with Fresno in the valley. And so my goal right now is to go and meet with them, meet with people from the university and meet with their people in the federal government to see what business options we have. They produce wine, for example, I take wine from Fresno State,” Karbassi said.
“These are developing economies, which means there can be a lot of economic growth. This can therefore be very beneficial for companies in the valley.
Although he will be absent from Fresno during the Sept. 29 city council meeting, Karbassi said he will attend via Zoom. The 11 a.m. difference means the 9 a.m. departure time from Fresno is 8 p.m. for him.
Karbassi’s trip is funded by taxpayers.
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