GYUMRI, Armenia - Lending a helping hand across the globe. From Central California to Northern Armenia. The city of Guymri is in Armenia's Shirak region. More than 120-thousand people live here... But there used to be many, many more. In 1988 a strong earthquake struck here. It killed thousands of people, and the city itself still hasn't been fully rebuilt.
30 years later, Amid the rubble that remains, are great examples of humanity. The Berlin Medical Clinic built in 1993 by Berlin, Germany's Red Cross, serves 70,000 patients a year -- young and old-- free of charge. And this year, will be able to operate a full capacity thanks to a gift from the North Fresno Rotary.
Winters are harsh in Gyumri, and the cost to buy gas from Russia is very high. Alexan Ter-Minasyan is with the Rotary in Gyumri. His organization's 10 year friendship with North Fresno Rotarians has resulted in a plan to help the Berlin Clinic thrive. "On this building we will add. Make our own solar panels which will produce approximately 30 kilowatts energy," he says.
$100,000 worth of solar panels will soon be installed, paid for by a grant from the Fresno Rotarians and Rotary International. Executive Director of the clinic Hovhannes Harutyunyan says the money they save in energy costs can be directed to other clinic improvements, and what's most important, the clinic can stay open and warm throughout the winter months.
"The building should be heated so the kids who are coming, they feel so comfortable inside the building," he says.
The panels have been delivered, and work to install them should begin at any time.. Just in time for the approaching winter. -- all thanks to the helping hand from Fresno.
"I will thank them for trusting.. And for being our best partner in Rotary. And we hope they will also visit us and we will have not only our project, but we will have our friendship. To develop our friendship," says Ter Minasyan.
The Gyumri Armenia Rotary and the North Fresno Rotary. Two service clubs, half a world apart... With one humanitarian mission linking them together.