Human Trafficking: Camp Is a ‘Shining Star’ for Armenian Children

As a young child, Artyom Karapetyan would be left to fend for himself at home when his mother went to work. As a single mother, she had no one to rely on to watch her son. But when Artyom turned 5, his mother enrolled him in a summer camp run by the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.

“I am very happy to have many friends in this camp and to play here,” says Artyom, 6, during his second summer camp experience. “This summer camp is like a shining star for me.”

Our Lady of Armenia Camp was founded in 1994 to help children from families in need across several regions in the country, says Sister Narine Simonyan, who heads the camp. The program offers a variety of activities, including sports, art, music, dance, hiking, catechism and language classes.

Many of the children come from single parent homes, where one parent, usually their father, either died at war or migrated to find work and never returned. The support these vulnerable children and single mothers receive helps protect them from falling into the trappings of human trafficking.

“I love this camp as it is a perfect way to have a great summer vacation and to have a good rest,” says Gor Minasyan, also in his second year at camp.

The 13-year-old says he appreciates the friendships he has made among the other children, as well as learning about faith.

“Here we learn many prayers to help us connect with God,” he adds. “I like this part very much.”

Learn more about Our Lady of Armenia Camp and its work among vulnerable children in the video below, then read more about the work of the sisters in preventing human trafficking among young people in “Targeted Twice” in the September issue of ONE magazine.

Laura Ieraci is editor of ONE.

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