SOAR - Melbourne Chapter
Melbourne joined the SOAR family in December 2016. The first Armenians migrated to Australia from Asia in the 1850s, during the gold rush and later from the 1915 Genocide and the Second World War. However, the majority came to Australia in the 1960s and 1970s from the Middle East, starting with the Armenians of Egypt after Nasser came to power. In the early 1990s, a small number migrated to Australia to escape the hardships in Armenia caused by the combination of the collapse of Soviet Union, the devastating Armenian earthquake of 1988 and the Azerbaijani aggression in Nagorno Karabakh.
The Armenian community in Australia is estimated to be 50,000 people who primarily reside in Sydney and Melbourne. In both, communities have established a number of organizations that cater to the educational, cultural, sport and welfare needs of the Armenian community. The Melbourne Armenian community, numbering upward of 10,000, has cultural centers, two Saturday language schools, and the Armenian Apostolic Church of St Mary. The community takes pride in the significant contributions that have been recorded in politics, business, academia, sports and culture.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Bayzar Kurklu, MBBS, DipPracMgt
Bayzar was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. She feels a close connection to the cause of SOAR and its mission on a personal level as her father fell ill and died when she was 13. With the generous support of her extended family and the philanthropists supporting Surp Hac Tibrevank High School at the time, she was able to excel academically and graduated as the dux of her high school.
Her interest in science and passion for learning has led to her pursuing a career in medicine. Shortly after receiving her medical degree from Trakya University, Bayzar met her husband Ares and moved to Melbourne. After her move to Australia in 2008, she carried out cancer research at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne. She has published her work in peer-reviewed journals and presented her findings at national and international conferences. She has recently completed a Diploma of Practice Management course and she is currently employed as a practice manager.
Bayzar’s volunteer experience began in 2001 when she and her sister Leda decided to honour their late father by spending a summer as live-in supervisors and caregivers for children at Gazturman Gayan Children’s Summer Camp. After the conclusion of the camp, Bayzar continued to mentor and council several of the troubled young women from the program. Over the course of the following years, she has volunteered at Surp Pırgiç Armenian Hospital as a medical student (2002-2006), Art and Humor Club of Trakya University (2003-2005), the Surp Hac Tibrevank Alumni Association (2005-2008) and St. Johns Ambulance of Victoria (2008-2010) in varying capacities – as a medical student, president, board member and first aider respectively.
As a paternal orphan herself, Bayzar has first-hand experience of how difficult and traumatic it can be for children to lose their parents, and of the importance of their having a safe and supportive environment during this difficult time. Thanks to the generous support of her extended family and the Armenian community, she has accomplished many things in her own life and now strives to give back with enthusiasm and confidence.
Pic and Bio coming soon
Anna is currently a PhD candidate in Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia and is doing her research on cancer. She is also an Education Mentor Coordinator at WEHI and Science tutor for high school students in Australia. Anna obtained her MSc degree in Biomedicine at University of Cadiz (UCA, Spain) in 2015. Prior to that she also had a BSc degree in Environmental Sciences (UCA, Spain) and studied Biology at Yerevan State University (YSU, Armenia) specializing in Molecular Biology. Anna recently worked in Prom-Test laboratories as an assistant biomedical scientist and did her internship at Cadiz University Hospital in Spain. Her previous experience includes her work at the Institute of Molecular biology NAS RA as a research assistant, exchange student in Denmark and the internship in Labaqua S.A. (Jerez, Spain).
Anna learns foreign languages very fast. She is fluent in Armenian, Spanish, English and Russian. Her hobbies are travelling, doing lab experiments, painting and participating in many outdoor activities. Anna has been a member of NGOs since her childhood and took part in many activities in Spain and whenever she was in Armenia.
Anna adores volunteering and entertaining children. She always finds a good way to keep an interesting conversation with them. It would be a great pleasure for her to have any kind of contribution to this project, which she is sure will make her very proud, happy and very satisfied.
Anush attained her LL.B. Degree from MYUD Institute of Law in Yerevan, Armenia. She continued her education in India and attained her Master’s Degree in Comparative Laws from the Faculty of Law University of Delhi, she is a diploma holder of India’s Institute of United Nations Studies, currently Research Scholar at the Faculty of the Law, University of Delhi.
She was a research development Intern at the National Human Rights Commission of India working on the project ” Women Rights – A Comparative Study of India and Armenia”, she was the President of Students Welfare Association of International Students House for Women of Delhi University.
She volunteered four years for the Armenian Young Lawyers Association, by providing free legal aid to the citizens of Armenia, traveling to remote villages, close to borders and organizing Human Rights awareness training at the educational establishments and for the residents in those areas.
She worked as an International Relations Specialist at National Centre for Professional Education Quality Assurance of Republic of Armenia, she worked as Project Coordinator of Armenia at PICASA Tempus project in partnership with Italy, Georgia, UK, Ukraine, she worked as Legal Observer at International Visarga Fund’s project on “Integration of European Values of the Anti-Corruption Sphere for Armenia: Practice of Visarga Group Countries,” as Legal Observer at the OSCE Yerevan Office project on “Multi-Component Monitoring in the Notaries Offices of the Republic of Armenia.” Anush was one of the first members at the Public Council of the Republic of Armenia in the committee of State and Legal Affairs. Anush is a Chairperson of All Ladies League Armenia Chapter.
Anush is fluent in Armenian, English, and Russian speaks Hindi. Causes that Anush cares about are human rights, gender justice, education, rights of children, intercultural dialogues and religious freedom.
Currently she is doing a comparative research between India and Armenia on the rights of working women. She is delivering speeches and writing articles.
“During my LLB in 2007 I was internal relations responsible of the university students union and I remember I organized a charity program for the children of one of the orphanage in Yerevan, I asked all the students to collect toys and cloths and together with many students we visited the orphanage and we spent a day with the children. The feelings of that day follow me throughout my life. I always remember beautiful eyes of those children without childhood. I remember how much they got happy for feeling their importance for us and the most difficult part was leaving them behind at the end of the day. There was one child with who I got very attached with and I can’t forget his voice again and again asking me “you will come again right”. I left from them with the heaviness in my heart and was feeling so helpless for not being competent enough to make them feel happy and loved not one day but throughout their childhood. So, coming across to SOAR is a blessing to me, I feel I am going back to that child who was continuously asking me “will you come again”. I am going back after years, I am now not that student who was helpless of not being able to make a change in a life of those children, now I am there for them with the best of my skills and experiences gained during this many year. Together with SOAR I will do my best to make positive changes for happy childhood and brighter future of orphaned children in Armenia.”
Evelina Gyulkhandanyan holds an MA Degree in Sociology from Yerevan State University. She has worked in human rights and development for over 15 years. In 2008 she co-founded “Socioscope” NGO and directed it utill 2014, promoting democracy and development in Armenia and in the region. Since February 2014 she has been living and working in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Alex, daughter Mariam and son Mark.
Arpi was born in Istanbul and is married with one daughter and has had the recent addition of a grandson.
An Industrial Engineer by profession, she received her BS at Bogazici University in Istanbul, her MS and Professional Degree in Industrial Engineering at Columbia University NY. Arpi worked 11 years in Istanbul at a major construction company, moving to Melbourne Australia in 1995. She is currently self employed as a property developer.
Arpi strongly believes that in this world, where there is no equal opportunity, we should do as much as we can to close that gap. If we can in any way help to improve the chances of children born into disadvantageous conditions then it should be our duty to do so once the opportunity presents itself. Our reward would be once in a while a smile on their faces if we can help it.