Friday, January 14, 2011

Vanessa Kachadurian-Armenian Adoption Wee-Care creator donates to Orphanage

Varadian the creator of wee bears donated to Gyumri Orphanage

Sarah Varadian, born and raised in Norwood, was a student at Ursuline Academy on Sept, 11, 2001 when terrorists attacked the United States and changed lives forever. Some of those lives changed for the better thanks to people like Varadian, who graduated last year from Stonehill College. Varadian created the Wee-Care Organization and has raised enough money to improve the lives of children around the world..
Varadian will be guest speaker Monday at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Giving Back which begins at 9 a.m. at the Middle School on Hayden Rowe Street.

Q. What inspired you to make your first bear?
A: It all began following Sept. 11. 2001. I had heard about the horrible conditions for girls in Afghanistan through the news, newspapers and other articles and was horrified to learn that they were not allowed to attend school. At the time, I was attending Ursuline Academy (an all-girls' school) so the thought of girls in another country being denied the opportunity to go to school truly upset me. I knew that I had to do something to help these girls so I began brainstorming ideas. Using my school's uniform - green plaid - our school mascot - the bear - and school motto - "Seviam" or "I will serve" as my inspiration, I began creating the Wee-Care Bears.
Q: Are they sewn by hand and do you sew other things besides bears.
A: I had never sewn a stitch in my life, so my mother had to teach me how to properly measure, pleat and hem these tiny skirts made out of our uniform material. I was so excited and proud of each little bear once it was fully dressed and tailored and ready to be sold. I sold them at my school each year to students, faculty and parents who were all just as excited and willing to help.

Q. How much money do you estimate has been raised since the first year?
A: I would say overall, several thousand dollars have been raised since September 11. I have no way of knowing the exact amount, but I pray that each year as the project continues to live on in my high school and hopefully other schools, more and more funds will be raised.
The first year, enough money was raised to fund the building of two girls' schools in Afghanistan through the organization CARE, International.

Q. What other organizations benefited from your fundraising?
A: The following years’ funds went to supporting those schools through CARE, International, but I wanted to support other causes that were important to me as well. A close friend of mine is the founder of the organization Science With A Mission which provides diagnostic tools for diseases like malaria and typhoid to underdeveloped countries in Africa. The money donated to her cause was enough to provide a large village with these tools. I am also extremely proud of and connected with my Armenian culture and wanted to support children in Armenia in any way that I could, so a portion of the funds raised went to the Armenian Relief Society and provided a Christmas party for several years to an orphanage in Gumri, Armenia.

Q. I know other schools are now doing something similar. How did your idea grow?
A: I taught underclassmen at my high school how to make the bears and I was also invited to speak at other schools about this project, teaching them how to make the bears as well. I encouraged them all to find a cause that speaks to them and to direct their funds to that organization. The girls in Afghanistan were a driving force for me and my passion for education motivated me to create and continue my project. It is important for those who are putting their time and effort into a project like this to believe strongly in their cause.

Q. What are your plans for the future?

A: I have graduated from Stonehill College, Magna Cum Laude, and continue to be involved in the nonprofit world. I am currently working for Lifespan, an umbrella organization responsible for the development and fundraising for five of the hospitals in Rhode Island. I am actively involved in the Armenian Youth Federation and continue to support local organizations like the Norwood Scholarship Foundation, where I am currently serving on the board of directors. I hope that my project can inspire other young students, like those I will be speaking to in Hopkinton on MLK Day 2011, and let them know that they CAN make a difference in this world.

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