A group of medical professionals is scheduled to leave Fresno Yosemite International Airport on Saturday morning and travel halfway around the world to help those in need.
They originally planned to leave on Friday alone to have their flight cancelled.
It is the seventh Fresno Medical Mission-Armenia, organized by the Armenian Honorary Consul Berj Apkarian. Since 2015 (excluding the 2020 pandemic year), a volunteer group has been traveling to Armenia every year to provide aid.
“With the recent aggression of Azerbaijanis and attacking 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 said Friday at the airport before the canceled flight.
(View) Armenian Medical Mission Is Ready For Help
The focus of this year’s trip is on helping wounded soldiers and others affected by recent military clashes with Azerbaijan, Apkarian said.
Apkarian’s employer, Community Health Systems, is helping to fund the trip.
The 16-strong Fresno group will join 17 other medical professionals across the country for two weeks. They also bring medicines and supplies. The combined delegation consists of surgeons, dentists, paediatricians and physiotherapists.
A desire to give back
“I think that’s why we all started practicing this profession, physiotherapy. We wanted to help or help people in one way or another. We have that altruistic quality.” — Kristina Koroyan
Several members of the delegation say the nearly 20-hour journey from Fresno to Dallas to Doha, Qatar to Yerevan, Armenia is worth it.
Kristina Koroyan is a therapist at Sanger Physical Therapy. This is her third trip.
“A lot of hands-on work is required. I think with the injuries we’ve seen, individuals have been given the right exercises or the right protocols to follow after a particular 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 started practicing this profession, physiotherapy. We wanted to help or help people in one way or another. We have that altruistic trait, I think,” Koroyan said.
For Clovis dentist Dr. Vatche Wassilian is about giving back. He is originally from Lebanon and attended medical school in Armenia.
“This is the spirit of the United States. That’s what we learned here from this great country. … to help when there are people who need help,” Wassilian said. “Now is the time to go. If you have the chance, because the people need us. (Armenia) needs us.”
Karbassi on official business
Fresno City Councilor Mike Karbassi will accompany the medical professionals on the trip. In addition to showing support, he has official business.
“(Armenia) wants to have an economic exchange with Fresno in the Valley. And so my focus now is on meeting with them, meeting with the college folks, and meeting with their people in the federal government to see what trading options we have. They produce wine, for example, I’ll take Fresno’s state wine,’ said Karbassi.
“They are developing economies, which means there can be a lot of economic growth. So it can be very beneficial for Valley companies.”
Although he will not be in Fresno during the Sept. 29 city council meeting, Karbassi said he would be attending via Zoom. The 11am difference means that Fresno’s start time is 9am for him to be 8pm.
Karbassi’s journey is funded by the taxpayer.