On the cusp of a new year, we can look back on 2021 as a time of bold experimentation and action. The fallout from compounded crises over the last two years continued to challenge the world in general and Armenians in particular, but AGBU remained committed to meet the needs of Armenians across the globe.
As the world slowly reopened its doors, I took the opportunity to visit many of our vulnerable communities in Armenia, Artsakh and the Middle East. It was essential to understand firsthand the trials before us: families summarily squeezed out of their ancestral homes due to redrawn post-war borders; economic turmoil resulting in lack of fuel, food, and income; parents awaiting news of their missing sons and daughters; and a pandemic with no signs of weakening its hold on our lives. In short, a generation of progress seemingly gone.
Yet, despite these challenges, we have learned from the past and pulled resources from our respective corners of the world to embrace and implement new ideas for the future. This year was one of action, balanced with pause to strategize for the future. Our leadership is committed and prepared to cooperate with our local communities and like-minded organizations around the world to develop strategies and programs serving the interests of all Armenians.
AGBU demonstrated itself once again to be a highly adaptive and forward-thinking force, providing humanitarian support by adding new dimensions to our unique methods of compassionate aid and assistance. One such example was the emphasis placed this year on offering trauma counseling and developing mental health programs in various forms, which was an essential component in the healing process for many, particularly in Armenia, Artsakh and Lebanon.
Our essential relief work persisted throughout 2021 with supplies and food deliveries, rebuilding of homes and schools and much more. With so many people in dire situations, we enlisted international volunteers into the mix to ensure as much as possible that the needs of war victims and their families were met. New programs like Armenians Come Together (ACT), along with our longstanding Arménie, Terre de Vie and Discover Armenia now have even deeper purpose and will serve thousands in the new year. It will be critical to align all our communities around the world behind focused initiatives in the homeland and we invite all our Districts, Chapters, Schools and Young Professionals groups to connect with us in the new year to maximize collaborative impact.
In addition, we built on the past achievements of our socio-economic development programs, offering services such as job training and mentorship, while leveraging our vast network of supporters. Our volunteers and staff found ways to navigate this new global landscape and create sustainable platforms for the future. Even our General Assembly, convened virtually for the first time, benefited from the evolving times with our most diverse attendance in decades. I am certain that in 2022, we will see continual avenues of virtual and in-person engagement where Armenians can motivate and support one another.
Of course, we will be closely following the direction of the geopolitical solutions that the government of Armenia is pursuing in its negotiations with the neighboring countries in the aftermath of the war. From the security of Artsakh to the demarcation of Armenia’s borders, these talks touch upon issues which have a formidable impact on the security and the socio-economic welfare of the country and wellbeing of our global nation.
As we look to the year ahead, I encourage us all to explore new ways to expand the impact of our important work. Nothing now is as it once was. AGBU continues to imagine inventive avenues for advancing education, culture and connectivity, and I invite you all to join us. We must remain on this path and stay committed to our diaspora and homeland.
AGBU has proven the ancient philosophy that out of great crisis comes great opportunity. We will take the spirit of that old adage into the new year as we prepare for what the world may have in store. Of course, this is only possible with the steadfast support of our highly motivated network of volunteers and staff, generous donors, and trusted partners.
With sincere good wishes for a healthy, prosperous New Year.