BY BEDROS KOJIAN, M.D.
There is great disparity between the establishment of a charitable private foundation in Armenia, successful fund raising activities and donations to NON-VITAL, but important, Armenian causes, and the GLARING absence of funds and/or donations to the Syrian Armenian CRISIS, eloquently described in Mr. Zaven Khanjian’s article, “Will You Be the First to Answer.”
It is unconscionable that most of us Armenians, like the rest of the world, are acting as if we are unaware that the entire vibrant and prosperous Syrian Armenian community is in a catastrophic state. To survive, most of these Armenians have been forced to leave their destroyed and looted homes, businesses and belongings that took them a century to build or acquire, hoping that in a “short period, the nightmare will be over,” and that they will return, reclaim and rebuild. But unfortunately, as the conflict lingers on, it is becoming more and more clear that this is a delusion rather than a reality.
As an American Armenian, and the son of genocide survivors, I, among others feel their pain and suffering. It reminds me of my parents’ stories of survival during the Armenian Genocide. At that time they were unfortunate in that no one actually helped them except their skills, hard work and the determination to survive.
Now times have changed, thanks to the United States of America and other nations, we not only have a roof on our head and food on our table, we also have enough to spare to help others, especially our own Syrian Armenians that are destitute and in critical need.
Fridtjof Nansen, the Norwegian, scientist, explorer, statesman, humanitarian, and Nobel Prize Laureate, after World War 1, was commissioned by the League of Nations to settle refugees and prisoners. He successfully helped settle hundreds of thousands of Germans, Austrians, Greeks, Turks, Russians and Armenians. In 1925 he was able to settle about seven thousand Armenians in soviet Armenia, ten thousand in Lebanon, and 40 thousand in Syria. The task was enormous and he needed additional funds, but his request to the League of Nations and his affluent friends for additional funds fell to deaf ears.
Demoralized he returned to his desk and noticed an envelope made of cheap paper addressed to him. Curiously he opened the envelope and found a dime and a note that said, “We are poor, and all we can afford is a dime, but we feel the pain and suffering of the Armenian refugees.” That gesture gave Nansen the motivation to continue to reach out to as many people as possible, eventually raising, through small donations, hundreds of thousands of dollars to help settle many more refugees.
Now with this troubling state of the Syrian Armenian community, it is our turn to become Fridtjof Nansens. Through Facebook, emails, texting and tweeting, within seconds we can spread the word to our family, friends and others. And if we each contribute $5.00 or $10.00 or $1,000.00 or whatever else me, you and others can afford – ANYTHING EXCEPT NOTHING – we will raise substantial amounts of money, and hopefully enough to save our Syrian brothers and sisters.
Please write your checks to SARF (Syrian Armenian Relief Fund) and mail to:
Syrian Armenian Relief Fund
P.O. Box 1948
Glendale, CA 91209-1948
All donations are tax-deductable.