It was the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that drew Roger Ohanesian to Armenia for the first time back in 1992. He came from California not to fight against Azerbaijan, but to help Armenians amid a public health crisis.
An ophthalmologist, Ohanesian, a member of the Armenian Diaspora in the United States, answered a call from the Armenian government to treat people with eye-related problems. By 1992, the Karabakh war had already been in progress for four years and had two more years to run before a ceasefire agreement would be signed. The fighting had already drained Armenia of its resources, and Ohanesian’s presence was needed to fill a healthcare gap.
“I went to Armenia having no idea really what it was and never having been there before,” said Ohanesian, who is in his mid-70s. “I don’t even speak the language.”
He established the non-profit Armenian EyeCare Project. In the 22 years since that first trip, he has returned to Armenia more than 40 times.
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