Presbyterians Today

APR-MAY 2018

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14 APRIL/MAY 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay SERVANTS N ext to the entrance of Lucy Janjigian's apartment is a drawing that her grand- daughter made. It depicts Janjigian, her granddaughter and the words "My grandmother helps orphans in Armenia. She inspires me to help other people." Her granddaughter has pigtails. Janjigian has a super- hero cape. In real life, Janjigian is a bit of a superhero. This spring, Janjigian will complete eight years of service on the Presbyterian Hunger Program's Advisory Committee. In addition to working with PHP staff to decide program foci, the commit- tee is responsible for distributing grants from money raised from One Great Hour of Sharing offerings to nonprofits around the world. Those grants have been for a variety of things over the years — from garden training to community organizing. When asked how she got inter- ested in caring for hungry people, Janjigian tells the story of being a 15-year-old in Palestine when it was partitioned in 1948. She and her family had to leave their home. Houses were demolished. Three- quarters of a million Palestinian refugees lived in tents. When she was 17, she worked with the United Nations in the refugee camps, inter- viewing families. She was supposed to record how many people lived in each tent, and if the family had lost a house, a job and/or income. She recalls how some of the families "borrowed grandmothers" so that they would qualify for a little more of the meager rations of flour, sugar and rice. She faithfully counted the extra grandmothers — even when she recognized them as repeats — because she believed that people should be fed and that people who were uprooted should be cared for. Over the years, Janjigian has used her gifts and skills to connect with other people, as a refugee herself several times over. First, she and her family were uprooted from Jerusalem. Then she and her husband had to flee Lebanon to the United States before war broke out in 1958. Her husband was a suc- cessful businessman, but it was Janjigian's science degree that got them a green card and their citizenship. Once they settled in New York, they raised a family. Janjigian got restless and began to take painting classes. Soon she was painting the biblical stories of creation and the temptation of Eve. Later she painted haunting images of the exile of Armenians after their genocide. She hoped that those paintings would help the viewer understand the struggles of Middle Eastern survival and would par- ticularly highlight the struggles of Armenians in diaspora. Her sense of working for justice for vulnerable people is how she ended up on the Presbyterian Caring for the hungry Lucy Janjigian — one a refugee, now an advocate BY ABBY MOHAUPT Lucy Janjigian, left, has always been interested in the lives of others. Here, she meets a new friend while on a trip to Hebron. Janjigian has spent her life seeking ways to help others. COURTESY OF LUCY JANJIGIAN

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