Founded by Siobhan Nash-Marshall and Rita Mahdessian on August 25, 2014, the Christians In Need Foundation was initially a response to the horrors inflicted against Christians in the Middle Eastern and Caucasus regions. By November of the same year, eight Syrian Christian students were funded to study at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York. I-20’s were completed and filed while a substantial student discount was negotiated. Study abroad was intended to provide students safety to freely think, pray, and develop as they chose. Yet at the last minute, all eight student visas were denied, preventing applicants asylum in the United States.
Undeterred, CINF decided to instead send education and aid to troubled regions through American volunteers. In 2016 CINF’s first volunteer, a recent college graduate, traveled to Tashir, Armenia to live and teach English to 150 students at the summer camp Diramayr Hayastani Ketron. The project was successful, and in addition to the education provided to young Armenian-Christians, the project volunteer learned valuable skills in teaching, leadership, communication, and organization in return. Recognizing an opportunity to educate both Eastern Christians and American youth, CINF made college students and recent college graduates as volunteers a permanent element of its work.
In 2017, two project leaders were sent to Artsakh with the same objective. While living for three months in Stepanakert, they provided English instruction at the Russian-American school and TUMO. Articles about their experience were also written and published in the Italian journal Tempi in an effort to spread awareness of Artsakh’s particular challenges. Thus the final element of CINF’s mission was born– encouraging learning through publication.
From these foundations, CINF will grow and spread their mission. For this coming summer of 2018, six students will be sent to Artsakh to teach varying levels and focuses in English. Planning is also underway for a new project in the following year, which will offer courses in various practical skills (public speaking, carpentry, cheese making, and alike).
Join us in our mission to provide and support education for those in need– from Eastern Christians to American youth. Follow our work on Facebook and Instagram, contact one of our offices in California or New York, or contribute to our work with a donation.