Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Donate $100,000 to Benefit Students Who Have Fled to Lebanon
Since launching an online and phone fundraising campaign for its Syria Emergency Relief Fund, AGBU has witnessed enormous support from donors all over the world, who have joined forces to help raise almost three quarters of a million dollars – and counting. Every penny, in addition to the $1 million pledged by the AGBU Central Board, is being used to assist the thousands of Armenian families who have found themselves at the crossroads of the conflict, and the thousands more who have been forced to flee the country as the crisis intensifies.
AGBU’s relief efforts toward Syrian Armenians are now expanding across the region in response to the rapidly increasing number of families who are crossing the border to safety. Up to 7,000 Syrian Armenians have arrived in Armenia in the past several months, adding greater urgency to the situation. In September, AGBU President Berge Setrakian and Armenia’s Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobyan met to discuss ways to accommodate the sudden influx. Mr. Setrakian pledged AGBU’s support to the Syrian-Armenian Relief Coordination Center, a joint initiative of non-governmental organizations that are creating essential safety nets for Syrian Armenians now living in Armenia. In addition, AGBU has established a local 11-member committee that, to date, has administered over $135,000 directly to families in need. Together, the AGBU committee and the Syrian-Armenian Relief Coordination Center have developed a three-month assistance program that includes housing provisions, job placement and school registration, and will run through the end of 2012, after which further steps will be considered. Until then, every weekday, the two groups gather in the AGBU Yerevan Office, which has opened its doors to all Syrian Armenian families and is conducting one-on-one consultations to both assess and help meet their needs.
AGBU’s programs serving Syrian Armenians in the homeland parallel the organization’s ongoing efforts in the greater Beirut area – efforts that have been given a significant boost by AGBU benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Vatche and Tamar Manoukian, who recently made a generous donation of $100,000 to the Emergency Fund to support AGBU Lebanon’s work. The AGBU District is exhausting every possible means to cope with the humanitarian and housing crisis it is now witnessing as countless displaced Syrian Armenians enter the city. The Manoukians’ important gift has made a remarkable difference in the three AGBU schools in the area, where requests for enrollment have jumped from 25 to 100 over the past few weeks, and administrators are taking every measure to ensure that no student sacrifices a high-quality education, despite the extraneous circumstances. After-school programs and Saturday classes have been designed and instituted especially for new students so they do not fall behind in their coursework. Additional staff is now being hired, and existing teachers are taking on extended hours to meet the new challenges in every classroom. At the same time, AGBU-AYA Lebanon youth are organizing social events, creating a much-needed sense of community and solidarity with their Syrian peers. While the schools’ initiatives have been successful, they have also created a great fiscal burden. Faced with a large deficit, the schools are struggling to finance the high costs of tuition, bus transportation, registration fees and books, as well as administrative expenditures.
Across Syria, AGBU is also continuing to marshal all available resources to deliver critical humanitarian aid to vulnerable families. In Aleppo, more than 80 AGBU volunteers are distributing food packages daily to over 3,000 families that include basic staples such as cereal, cooking oil, dry meat, eggs, lentils, milk, potatoes, rice, sugar and wheat. In Damascus, hundreds of boxes of food are also being stockpiled, while in Kamishli, dozens of AGBU volunteers are continuing to take cautionary security members. Emergency response, healthcare and shelter are the other areas of aid on which AGBU has directed its focus, and an AGBU Aleppo facility has been transformed into a comfortable living space fully equipped with medical supplies and personnel to serve local families.
No matter where they are, AGBU staff and volunteers are working around the clock to ensure that every Armenian family in or from Syria receives the aid they need as the conflict escalates.
While AGBU is making great strides on the ground, it cannot sustain its efforts without the support of the Armenian diaspora community, and is appealing to Armenians worldwide to donate to the Syria Emergency Relief Fund. Every contribution makes a critical difference in the lives of families now in Syria, Armenia and Lebanon.
Donate online here: https://donate.agbu.org/agbu-urgent-appeal.
Donate by phone Mon-Fri 9 am to 5 pm (EST): +1-855-AID-AGBU (243-2428).
Please send checks to: AGBU
Syria Emergency Fund
55 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022
Indicate “Emergency Humanitarian Fund” in memo line.
Established in 1906, AGBU (www.agbu.org) is the world's largest non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually touching the lives of some 500,000 Armenians around the world.
For more information about AGBU and its worldwide programs, please visit www.agbu.org