SoCal doctors, nurses fly to Artsakh to assist with humanitarian aid

The fighting continues between Armenia and Azerbaijan. What’s happening 7,000 miles away from Los Angeles is mobilizing the local community.

Over the weekend during a 12-hour virtual telethon, the Armenia Fund managed to raise $30 million. On a global scale, over $100 million been raised with proceeds going to Armenia and Artsakh for humanitarian aid.

On Oct.12, a group of local nurses and doctors boarded flights to go to the frontlines in Artsakh. They say they feel they have no choice.

Annie Cholakian is a registered nurse and says this is not how she imagined she would be going to her ancestral homeland. Instead of a journey filled with joy and eagerness, this departure is full of anxiety. 

Nurse travels to Armenia to help humanitarian efforts

Annie Cholakian, registered nurse

"Emotionally I am shaking. I am nervous. I am nauseous. I have been crying. I don’t know what to expect," Cholakian said. 

The Armenian American Nurses Association brought a group of three registered nurses and two surgery trauma technicians together for this journey. 

RELATED: Continuing coverage of the conflict
"I am not sure what I am about to walk into. I know they are massively burned and explosions are happening all around so they are hurt. I am ready for everything," Cholakian added.

Cholakian, like most local Armenian-Americans, has been glued to her phone, constantly getting updates, checking in with friends and family and praying for an end to it all. She is aware she is about to make a big sacrifice.
"I told my family the day I purchased my ticket which was two days ago -- I know it may be the last time I see my family," Cholakian said. 

Arman Sahakyan is also making a sacrifice and says he felt he had no choice. So, he’s leaving behind his family here for his family there.

Arman Sahakyan, registered nurse practitioner

"Everybody can do their part. My message is to stand up and do your part. It is an internal call. I was born and raised there. It is my time to go. My country is calling us and I am doing my part," said Arman Sahakyan, a registered nurse practitioner, at Adventist Health Glendale.

It is a selfless act born out of sheer humanitarian concern, to help the civilians and soldiers. The death toll is rising and the list of injured is growing. 

"We are hearing that the situation is extremely critical and we need everyone across the nation to stand with us, we need support and we need peace," said Cholakian.

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There hasn’t been much peace in this region. Thirty years ago, tensions escalated into a full-scale war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Since then, there has been fighting over the years. But nothing like this.

Cholakian and Sahakyan feel what’s happening right now, the world should not ignore.

"Turks and Azerbaijan are together and history repeats itself. One hundred years ago they slaughtered 1.5 million Armenians and now they are trying to do the same thing. We are standing up and saying no this is not going to happen again," said Sahakyan.

"My great grandmother was a survivor of the 1915 Genocide. The trauma that stands behind those stories, I don’t want my kids or my grandchildren to deal with this again," said Cholakian.

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