CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Southern Californian award-winning author Dawn Anahid MacKeen is continuing her campaign to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide. She is giving an illustrated talk on Sunday, October 16 based on her new book The Hundred-Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey and simultaneously helping to raise funds for Syrian Armenian refugees during this particularly critical period. The talk is presented by the Tekeyan Cultural Association, the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, and Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church. The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research is a cosponsor.
MacKeen’s presentation is based in part on her grandfather’s experiences as transcribed in his journals. She traced his steps from Adabazar (Adapazari) in Turkey to the deportation routes in Syria. MacKeen’s book is having a great impact in the United States among both Armenians and non-Armenians. She declared, “I have been so grateful that my grandfather’s courageous story continues to reach a wider audience. He believed he had survived the genocide in order to bear witness. So many people have written to me to tell me that they never knew about what happened to the Armenians until reading his story, and are shocked at how history is repeating itself in the same region again today.” Purchasing MacKeen’s books both helps spread the story and encourages major publishers to continue to publish and promote such works on Armenian topics.
Faced by the increasingly dangerous situation for Armenians and others in Syria today. MacKeen and the sponsors of her Cambridge presentation want to take advantage of the opportunity to raise funds to help those without financial means to escape and settle in Armenia. MacKeen said, “The war has helped to create the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. So many Syrian-Armenians are descendants of Armenian genocide survivors, and are now struggling to survive each and every day. It’s our responsibility to help them.”
For this reason, any proceeds from this event will be donated to the Save a Life program of the Aleppo Compatriotic Charitable Organization, based in Yerevan, Armenia. Donations will also be accepted (they will be tax-deductible) and an auction held to raise further funds.
The Save a Life program was established in 2015 by Syrian Armenians and in the US, the Parish Council of St. Kevork Armenian Apostolic Church of Houston has agreed to collect money with no administrative costs deducted in order to support this program. The program has assembled a list of 600-700 people who cannot afford the cost of transportation to Armenia but want to escape and save their lives from the ever-worsening violence. Several hundred Syrian Armenians have already been aided by this program.
Five hundred dollars can save one life. For $500 per person, the program gets them a bus ticket to Lebanon and a printed one-way airplane ticket to Armenia. It makes sure they get a visa in Aleppo from the Armenian authorities so that they can take a bus and cross the border into Lebanon. From Beirut they fly to Dubai and then to Yerevan. All exit and entrance visas and transfer costs are covered.
In Yerevan they are given $100 per person and shelter. However afterwards they must look for a job. The United Nations has promised last month to provide three months of rent, but this has not yet commenced. Armenian individuals and organizations also sometimes support these refugees once they are in Armenia. The Armenian government has limited resources to do this.
American donors of $500 multiples can keep in touch with the individuals or families they sponsor.
The auction for Syrian Armenian aid will showcase many interesting and valuable items. Moved by the Syrian situation, even the publisher of the book, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which coincidentally is based in Boston, is donating a set of cookbooks and children’s books.
Armen Bogossian of Gold Quest Jewelers is donating a beautiful set of diamond design earrings, with a retail value of $1,349. The total weight of the diamonds is .59 caret. Gold Quest Jewelers is a family-run business serving the Boston area. Founded in 1997, it specializes in handcrafted custom designs, using the latest CAD CAM technology. It also provides original and classic creations, with certified diamonds and gemstones. The customers are always in control, with the capability to choose how their jewelry will look, including the types of gemstones, metal and time frame of completion, and they always receive the highest degree of guaranteed workmanship. For further information, see http://www.goldquestjewelers.com/ or call 617 227-3322.
The auction will include several exquisite works of art, including a New Mexico landscape painting by Richard Tashjian, and a photograph taken by Hrair Hawk Khatcherian of the Monastery of the Virgins, among the ruins of Ani. There will be a variety of Armenian-themed works, including a signed copy of Vartan Gregorian’s memoir, The Road to Home, and some attractive coffee-table type books, such as Armenia: Masterpieces from an Enduring Culture (2015), edited by Theo Maarten van Lint and Robin Meyer, and Armenia: The Story of a Place in Essays and Images (2001), by author John Hughes and photographer Bruce Strong.
Finally, the Armenian Mirror-Spectator is donating two one-year subscriptions (digital or print) to the auction.
The event will begin at 1 p.m. on October 16 at the Charles and Nevart Talanian Cultural Hall of Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church (145 Brattle Street, Cambridge MA), with complimentary admission and reception. For more info, contact [email protected]/617 924-4455.