Bronchial asthma, the most common chronic childhood disease, is a major health problem for many children in Armenia. According to recent statistics, 10% of children, ages 5 and under, are those who suffer from asthma, and 15-20% of these children may develop disabilities if their symptoms are not controlled with medication. This problem has become critical due to COVID-19 and the recent Artsakh War, which has made it difficult for parents to purchase medications. Fund for Armenian Relief, which has prioritized children’s health and care for years now through its comprehensive programs, recently forged bonds with the Norman K. Miller Charitable Trust established by the late Armenian-American entrepreneur, inventor, and philanthropist Norair K. Deirmengian. FAR’s partnership with the trust will support procurement of hard-to-find yet essential medications needed to treat acute asthma. Through the initiative, 100 children from vulnerable families in Artsakh and Armenia will receive these medications in 2021.
“This generous support came in time. The Armenian government and the Department of Respiratory Medicine and Allergy at Arabkir Medical Center were facing a serious problem covering the need of this life-saving medication. The regular intake of this medication is essential for children with bronchial asthma to prevent frequent strokes and further, more severe consequences, which may result in disabilities,” said FAR Health Program Director Dr. Hambardzum Simonyan. Norair K. Deirmengian was a survivor of the 1915 Genocide who was born near Kasken Maden, Turkey in September 1914 at the onset of World War I. His mother, Serpouhee, gave birth to him in the back of a hay cart as she and her two other sons, Arsen and Kourkin, were fleeing for their lives. His father, Karekin, was murdered before he was born.
Norair spent his childhood in refugee camps and orphanages in Romania, France, and Italy, often questioning when or where his next meal would be coming from or whether or not he would have a bed to sleep in that night. His meager beginnings deeply influenced his lifelong desire to provide safety and security for others. From a young age Norair excelled academically. His intelligence brought recognition and earned him an invitation to attend Moorat Raphael College Preparatory School in Venice, Italy. With graduation just weeks away, he received a letter from a distant uncle, inviting Norman to come to the United States, which he did in 1935. After two years at West Catholic High School, Norair was accepted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Business where he majored in accounting. He paid his tuition and continued to improve his English by tutoring other students in Italian, Spanish, German, and French.
After the WWII, where he was assigned for a time to regimental intelligence due to his a bility to speak English, Turkish, Armenian, Romanian, Italian, French, and Yugoslavian, Norair K. Deirmengian returned to civilian life and began manufacturing novelty coin purses along with his two brothers in the basement of their Philadelphia row home.
Starting in 1956, Norair K. Deirmengian began developing safety products for the overhead door industry, including edge sensors for industrial and commercial doors and motorized gates.
This remarkable man with a big heart always helped Armenians through different humanitarian and philanthropic programs. In 2004, thanks to his generous donations, Nor Getashen (Arstakh) community members were provided with clean, safe running water. He believed that if the people could see a way out of devastation, they would be able to help themselves recover and regain productive lives.
His daughter, Flossie Miller, who has made this donation to FAR possible, said, “I thank God for my Dad who, all the way from Heaven, continues to help children in need. May God bless Armenia and especially the children who have had their childhoods taken away from them.