On Saturday, May 18, US Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern, his wife Mrs. Libby Heffern, Former Chairman of the AGBU Western District Committee of California Haig Messerlian and AGBU Armenia Director Arpi Vartanian visited the AGBU Hye Geen Pregnant Women's Center in Talin. During the Ambassador's Diaspora Tour in the USA last December, Ms. Sona Yacoubian, Chairperson and Founder of AGBU Hye Geen Southern California, invited Ambassador and Mrs. Heffern to visit the AGBU Hye Geen Pregnant Women's Centers in Armenia and meet the expectant mothers to better understand the realities facing women and their families in Armenia's regions today. Ms. Yacoubian remarked, "The AGBU Hye Geen Committee welcomes the interest and the appreciation shown by Ambassador and Mrs. Heffern. We consider the Pregnant Women Centers in Armenia a priority. Healthy newborns and healthy, educated mothers are essential to safeguard the future of our homeland. I also thank Haig Messerlian and Arpi Vartanian for their assistance in arranging this visit." Messerlian, Vartanian and Ani Aslanian, Project Coordinator of the AGBU Hye Geen Pregnant Women's Center in Talin, described the Center's activities, accomplishments and challenges. The 20 mothers-to-be were delighted to share their impressions and have a frank discussion about their everyday challenges. Ambassador and Mrs. Heffern, proud parents of five children and grandparents to one child, welcomed the opportunity to interact with the women, learn about their concerns, and share their experience and ideas. To date, AGBU Hye Geen Pregnant Women's Center in Talin has served close to 160 women and their healthy babies. Mrs. Libby Heffern said, "It was wonderful to see so many Talin women actively participating in the center. I really believe that proper prenatal care is the most precious gift for their children." Several constructive suggestions were offered. AGBU Hye Geen Pregnant Women's Center Talin is already exploring ways to turn those ideas into reality. Messerlian, Vartanian and Aslanian thanked Ambassador and Mrs. Heffern for their visit and enthusiasm, and expressed appreciation for their support to Armenia and the Armenian people. Messerlian added that their meaningful visit and conversation with the participants meant a great deal and would be remembered by all for years to come. The first AGBU Hye Geen Pregnant Women's Center in Armenia was established in 2002, in Gyumri, with the goal of improving the health of pregnant women and reducing infant mortality rates and complicated pregnancies. In 2006, the second Center was opened in Vanadzor. In 2009, the Talin Center was established, replacing the Gyumri Center. In 2011, the Nora Injijian Center was launched in Yeghvard. Most recently, the Arshagouhi Tavitian Center was opened in 2012 in Yerevan. Maintaining a constant number of 20 pregnant women per site, the Centers have become a place for women to discuss concerns, receive medical exams & pre-natal care, learn through individual and group consultations with experts and form long-lasting bonds with one another. These Centers have become possible through the efforts of AGBU Southern California Hye Geen Southern California. To date, the Centers have served over 1,400 healthy babies and mothers.

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