Christianity Today Reports on Tragic Guatemalan Orphanage Fire


Christianity Today – March 2017 reported the following:

Earlier this month, a fire at an orphanage outside of Guatemala’s capital caught international attention. Forty children died of carbon monoxide poisoning and burns; the tragic event drew worldwide condemnation.

But the aftermath of the fire has given hope to those who work with the Central American country’s orphans. As the government turns to evangelicals for help, it seems the tragedy may spark the breakthrough many have been praying for.

In some ways, the tragic blaze—set intentionally by children locked in the overcrowded facility—was not unexpected by evangelical experts. In 2006, Orphan Outreach founder Mike Douris told the Guatemalan government that the orphanage’s design wasn’t a good idea.

The government went ahead and built it anyway—another link in a chain of wrong moves. For decades, Guatemala has had some of the worst child welfare practices on the planet.

In 2015, the country had the second-highest rate of child murders in the world. Of the crimes against children that get reported—including murder, rape, kidnapping—most go unpunished (88%). An estimated 2 in 5 children are malnourished. Among indigenous children, that rises to 4 in 5. Tales of overcrowding, abuse, and malnutrition leak out of orphanages like the one near the nation’s capital, Guatemala City, where dozens died in the recent fire.

The infamous orphanage, the Virgen de la Asunción, was built for 400 children but housed about 750. Inside, orphans were physically and sexually abused by staff and by other children. There were complaints about water leaks and poor food quality. Only 3 of the 64 security cameras in the building were working.

The conditions resemble fellow public orphanages, which house about 1,200 children in Guatemala. At least three times as many live in private orphanages (about 4,000), but that’s still a small fraction of the 370,000 orphans that UNICEF estimates live in the country. Since Guatemala has no foster care system and very few domestic adoptions, virtually every child removed from a neglectful or abusive situation is sent to an orphanage. Many more live on the streets.


News from Ghana: Our hearts are heavy with your loss and grief.


News from Ghana: Massive Flood and Fire Leave Ghanaians in Shock.  Our hearts are heavy with your loss and grief.

Read more.

EMERGENCY NOTICE: Fire Destroys Part of Mari Izmirlyan Orphanage

MI FireVery early yesterday morning, a major fire broke out on the second floor of Mari Izmirlyan Orphanage.  Mari Izmirlyan, located in Yerevan, houses approximately 100 special needs children.  Thankfully, none of the children were hurt.  While we are still receiving information about the extent of the fire and the needs of the orphanage going forward, we do know that the 42 children who occupied the second floor have been relocated.

Those who have read SOAR’s email blasts over the years may be familiar with my husband George Yacoubian’s writing style.  However, with Sunday’s fire at Mari Izmirlyan, I felt compelled to write all of you.  Some of you, like me, may not be Armenian.  Others may be Armenian, but have not been to Armenia.  Others may have visited Armenia, but not seen the orphanages.  I presume only a small proportion of you have not only visited the country but also the orphan institutions within.  For those in this group, I know you can understand what my words hope to convey.

My heart and mind start with the already devastating fact that these children do not know family the way many of us do.  Already heartbreaking, I can’t shake what I have seen in the many trips we took to Armenia to visit our daughter while we waited for her to be able to come home – the cold cement walls, the caving ceilings, and the mildew-stained, broken down common bathrooms.  That is why this news about the fire has left me significantly more heartbroken for these children.  To lose what little they had is one thing. What’s even harder to imagine is the trauma these children endured – losing what little they had and not being able to seek comfort in a hug from their father or reassuring words from their mother.  They can’t move in with family while repairs are made. There is no hotel to check into. They can’t count on repairs being made efficiently.  I write this email blast to ask for any help you can provide, not just for the renovation of a building but also for the rejuvenation of their spirits. In addition to any tangible donation you consider, we welcome any guidance from those that have experience helping others through something like this, and of course, as many prayers as you can spare.

If you would like to assist Mari Izmirlyan Orphanage, online donations can be made through PayPal at (designate SOAR-National) or checks can be mailed to the above address.  If you have any questions, please call us at 610.213.3452.

With all of our thanks,

Erica Carraro Yacoubian

Urgent Prayers For Children and Staff of Marie Izmirlyan Orphanage in Yerevan, Armenia

RDKaUC1Za326pkp6MBw2_tn Large fire at the Marie Izmirlyan’s  orphanage

04.05.2013 19:26

A while ago, a major fire broke out in the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Marie Izmirlyan’s orphanage.

Photojournalist Gagik Shamshyan was there, as the ambulance arrived to the scene of the fire and the fire service brought a large number of brigades, and with their arrival at the orphanage, workers were able to bring the children.

At this point, firefighters are still trying to extinguish the fire.

The Emergency Situations Ministry arrived at the scene and Rescue Service Operational Department Armand Tsolakian, the Police Downtown Operations Department Investigation Group, and Armen Vatyan, Department Head.


A while ago, photojournalist Gagik Shamshyan said that firefighters had put out the fire and it is completely isolated, and fortunately there were no casualties and injuries on the scene. Forty-two children were evacuated.

Photos and video by Gagik Shamshyan


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