LONDON — On May 21, AGBU brought together hundreds of supporters and friends for a Gala Benefit Dinner at the Landmark Hotel. The evening was devoted to celebrating the achievements of the AGBU Humanitarian Emergency Relief Fund for Syrian Armenians and inspiring continued support for helping to alleviate the dire conditions that continue to persist in the region.
Thanks to the generosity of AGBU Central Board member and CEO of Amber Capital Joseph Oughourlian and his wife Jenny, all the proceeds from the fundraising dinner were directed to the AGBU Humanitarian Emergency Relief Fund for Syrian Armenians.
The highlight of the gala was the keynote speech by the Lord Darzi of Denham. Lord Darzi captivated the audience with his wit and charm. Born in Baghdad to Armenian parents, Lord Darzi is known as one of the world’s leading surgeons, pioneering the keyhole surgery that has saved the lives of countless patients around the world. He has also served as a government health minister and became the first person of Armenian origin to become a member of the House of Lords.
Speeches were also given by Camilio Azzouz of the AGBU London Trust and AGBU Europe Board; Oughourlian; César Alierta, the chairman of the Spanish telecommunications provider Telefónica; and AGBU President Berge Setrakian. All the speakers emphasized the importance of responding to global crises swiftly and instilled in the audience the great significance of their contribution to Syrian relief. In particular, Alierta — a friend and supporter of the Armenian community — encouraged AGBU members to raise awareness about the crisis in Syria and outlined the way Armenians are exemplary in the world: “I’ve seen how resilient and strong the Armenian community is. It is part of your DNA. It is the most important community in the world because the Armenian community is the only one that can know how life is in the Middle East, Europe, Canada, the United States and Latin America and also serve Christian values.”
Among the prominent guests were members of AGBU London, the AGBU London Trust, AGBU Europe, the AGBU Central Board and the clergy of the Armenian Apostolic Church along with members of the AGBU Young Professionals (YP) network.
Special acknowledgment was given to AGBU Central Board member Vasken Yacoubian, who has been instrumental in organizing relief efforts in Syria and for Syrian Armenians living in Armenia. “From the bottom of our hearts, you are truly a hero to us and a big source of inspiration. If my generation puts so many hours of work into what we do, it’s because of people like you who have put everything they have into our community. We want to deeply thank you for that,” Azzouz said in recognition of Yacoubian.
The gala closed with remarks by Setrakian, who sketched the formidable history of the Armenians of the Middle East over the past century and emphasized the perseverance of the Armenian people: “These are difficult times, but we will prevail. I remain optimistic. This vision of ours, created in 1906, has gone through many challenges, but we thank Armenians worldwide who have trusted this organization and we will continue the heritage of our founders and continue to reach out to every Armenian in need.”
To donate to the AGBU Humanitarian Emergency Relief Fund for Syrian Armenians, visit https://donate.agbu.org/agbu-urgent-appeal.