The Charitable activities which have been started more than a century ago ,first of all , sprouted in Aleppo , then flourished to the other regions. For example , the Armenian National Prelacy has organized Famine’s Committee , which has formed by a special Circular leaflet of Constantinople’s Armenian Patriarch Nerses Varjabedian between 1879 and 1880 by intention to give hand to the starved Armenian native population in the Armenian villages in Turkey .
Poor People’s Committee has improved & promoted by the Armenian National Prelacy’s efforts on 1st January ,in 1882 in Aleppo. It probably forms the basis of the present Working Bodies for the Poor People , which works under the patronage of church warden councils .
To help again the starved Armenian Villages Women Committee has organized , in 1908 by the Armenian National Prelacy’s efforts .
Widow Care Committee has organized on 13th January , in 1911 by the Armenian National Prelacy’s efforts .
Emigrants Aid Committee has acted in 1915, in Aleppo which has organized by the efforts of Catholicos Sahag II Khabayan. Women Assistant Committee has organized for the same intention on 23rd October in 1915 by the Armenian National Prelacy’s efforts . By the management of the Royal Patriarch Emigrants Aid Committee is related to Armenian National Association or Armenian National Council on 19th December 1918 which is founded in Aleppo by the invitation of His Holiness . (It has had all – community nature and ratified by the local and allied authorities ) which has stopped on 30th May in 1925.
“Verjin Gulbenkian” National Maternity House has established in Aleppo , in 1935. By charity of Nerses Gulbenkian who was a national benefactor . Today there is also a hospital wing in the Maternity House and continues its graceful activity in the Armenian Colony.
There have been active Orphanages in Aleppo in the past and especially the next days of the Armenian Genocide ( Armenian Orphanage is a remarkable one ) . There were House of widow , charity apartments where The Estonian Mother Miss Buel , armenophile the Danish Miss Karen Yeppe and others have played a distinguished role in the above mentioned places . Nowadays , the following Charitable Institutions and Associations (Unions) work in Aleppo and in different regions of the Diocese .
Armenian General Benevolent Union ( A.G.B.U.)
AGBU Aleppo branch has established under the supervision of Supreme Vartabed Shahe Kasbarian on 21st March in 1910. He particularly faced the people from the stage of church on successive Sundays explaining them the Union’s goal , the big field of activity and the readiness to treat especially the disaster’s consequences of Armenian Cilicia .
Those three organized branches have stopped in Syria , because of World War I in 1914.
Aleppo specific Committee has reorganized in November 1918 and there has been e regional general committee in Syria , in 1945.
Especially at the first period of A.G.B.U.’s local branch formation A.G.B.U. has been helpful to the deported and exiled Armenian refugees in Aleppo . In the days of Armenian Genocide A.G.B.U. has greatly participated in Orphan gathering activities and concerned about making the needy Armenian Craftsmen and farmers self-sufficient . It has organized a refuge-workshop ,when Armenian Cilicia has lived its last days in 1920, A.G.B.U. Aleppo branch has helped the native Armenian population by sending material and nutrition aid to the disastrous areas. At those days till 1931, it has undertaken as a donator the work of soup distribution for the proletarian Armenian women & Young men in 1921. AGBU has established Cilician Orphanage – the school of arts in Aleppo, in 1922 which granted many services and has acted till 1928. AGBU also has founded Boys House in Aleppo , in December 1928 to protect the Armenian young men who have become Arab by returning them to the Armenian people’s heart (arm).
A.G.B.U.’s various activities have extended in 1940s and continue up to date in charitable ,benevolent , take care , sanitary , educational ,cultural and editorial fields, under the patronage of Syrian Regional General Committee . It has a private club –family garden in 1964.
In 1930s A.G.B.U.’s educational activity has started and goes on through the private and taking support Armenian schools. These schools enjoy the Union’s immediate patronage. A donating foundation has been established for the Armenian University students’ Education since 1960 .
At the beginning , the Sanitary activities have centralized in “Nerses Gulbenkian” Dispensary (between 1949 and 1978).
Today the activities are in the scope of service & take-care for the nutrition needy children at the Recreation Centre which built in Kesab in 1968 . Where has been continued to manage and give “hot clothes” (winter clothes) for the needy since 1947. It has planned to reanimate the dispensary in “Antranik” newly built building of A.G.B.U.
In the cultural field , the Union’s “Kevork Nazarian” magnificent auditorium (established in 1958) , and “Mardiros Sarian” painting Academy (founded in 1955) have extremely remarkable activities . “Mardiros Sarian” has started by efforts of architect and artist Zareh Kaplan and famous oculist and intellectual Dr. Rober Jebejian . The Bibliographic Committee which is unique in itself has formed in 1967. It has been dedicated to the grateful work of saving our spiritual and cultural values .
“Violette Jebejian” library has established under the supervision and help of Dr. Rober Jebejian on 13th July in 1971 . Recently, they have flourished editorial activities “Keghart’ yearly book is mentionable . Up to 1969, A.G.B.U. has patronized the theatrical group Sountukian (founded in 1930s) , then rechristened & renamed by Bedros Atamian in 1961. The appreciable role of the theatrical group continues up to date .
A.G.B.U. has had 40 branches on the Syrian land (between 1910-1967) among them was Alexandret Sanjak Some areas emptied from Armenians and many branches stopped their activities , when Sanjak has annexed to Turkey in 1939,because of immigration (1946-1947) and some other reasons.
Nowadays the following branches work in Syria, Aleppo , Damascus( 1913) , Latakia (1927) , Yakoubiye ( 1929) , Qamshly (1932) & Karadouran (reorganized in 1994) those branches usually have headquarters ,whereas Qamshly branch has enriched by a newly built club – headquarter on 22nd April in 2001.
During the Civil War in Lebanon ,A.G.B.U. unavoidably gave hand to the refugees in Aleppo and helped the compatriotic Armenian people after the heavy earthquake which struck Armenia in 1988. In the life of Diocese of Aleppo A.G.B.U. continues to be a charitable unique phenomenon .
A.G.B.U. –A.Y.A. club has planned to change completely . At the hands of Metropolitan of Diocese Archbishop Souren Kataroyan and by charity of Calouste Gulbenkian Institution has fulfilled Calouste Gulbenkian Centre’s foundation on 5th August in 2001.
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