Canadian youth mission to armenia

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Canadian Youth Mission to Armenia (CYMA)


Program Description

CYMA, the Canadian Youth Mission to Armenia, is a Canadian, volunteer led humanitarian and exchange program focused on redevelopment, community projects, humanitarian aid distribution and student exchange. CYMA was founded in late 1992 through a collaboration between Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, then primate of the Canadian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and university student Ronald Alepian.


Innaugural Mission

The first CYMA "mission" took place in the summer of 1993 when 24 young Canadians spent a month in the [[Ararat Region]] of the newly independent Republic of Armenia. The mission had three main projects:

1. The construction of a primary school. A 5,000 sq.ft. building left uncompleted after the fall of the Soviet Union was renovated and furnished in under 4 weeks by the volunteers and opened in late August 1993. It continues to operate today.

2. Distribution of aid to border villages affected by the War in Karabakh and to children and orphan members of the CFFA - Children's Fund for Armenia.

3. Visitations to poor families in the Ararat Region. Over the next several years, from 1994 to 2007, CYMA conducted missions each year, with over 400 participants having taken one month sabaticals from life to work hands-on on various projects and programs - from construction to the management of day camps and child care services.


Creation of CYMA

CYMA operates under the auspices of the Canadian Diocese, but since it's early days, enjoys the active participation and support of the various Armenian organizations in Canada, including the AGBU - Armenian General Benevolent Union.

It was founded in 1992 by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian and Founding Chairperson Ronald Alepian, then a 22 year old university student. When creating CYMA, Alepian formed an honorary Board of Directors to add credibility to the mission, which included Senator Jacques Hebert (founder of Canada World Youth) and the late Senator Shirley Maheu. Hebert and Maheu gave counsel and direction to the early CYMA leaders.


One of the first things done by the founding committee was to commission a logo to brand the program in the minds of the community. The logo is highly recognizable within the Armenian community and remains a symbol of Canada's participation in the redevelopment of the new country.