AGBU Lebanon scouts mobilize a clean-up patrol among other rescue and relief operations including AGBU medical dispensaries, shelters and food packages.
With the campaign launch of the AGBU Global Humanitarian Emergency Relief Fund in mid April 2020, donors from around the world demonstrated in action the meaning behind the AGBU motto In Unity is Strength.
In support of pandemic-related relief efforts, grass roots donations were generated from digital and mass mailing appeals as well as major gifts rushed to district offices from long time AGBU supporters.
By July 31st, the campaign reached its first goalpost of one million dollars. But just four days later, the explosion that rocked Lebanon on August 4th, exceeded $100,000 in just three days in support of urgent rescue and relief operations. The demand for humanitarian aid has escalated in the wake of the physical destruction of homes and businesses, on top of the financial and health crises already impacting lives and livelihoods in the country.
“Unlike other crises for which AGBU has raised funds, be it the 1988 Earthquake, the Artsakh War, Syrian Armenian refugees and other localized emergencies, the COVID-19 crisis and the recent Lebanon disaster have put Armenians in peril in multiple hotspots across the globe,” AGBU President Berge Setrakian remarked.
He went on to say that despite the uncertain financial times, the outpouring of support from all corners of the Armenian world demonstrates “the innate sense of responsibility that Armenians have for one another when lives are on the line.”
According to Anita Anserian, the managing director of the AGBU Central Office, who remains in constant contact with the regional offices and local chapters across the AGBU global network, the groundswell of response was immediate and the momentum strong.
“The leadership across our network is working overtime to not only help raise funds but allocate them to initiatives on the ground without delay. We couldn’t be more gratified to see how everyone is rallying to help those in greatest need. There are so many heroes among us.”
“Without these substantial sums to underpin our efforts, we could not have deployed our food package programs in the hardest hit areas like Lebanon, Armenia and Syria, in addition to cities you wouldn’t expect like LA, Toronto, Montreal, Sydney and others,” noted Anserian. “Now we must step up our fundraising campaign to be there for our devastated communities in Lebanon.”
Setrakian concurred, saying, “Funds already raised to date are depleting rapidly as the needs climb higher by the day. This means that, for the foreseeable future, the urgency for relief and assistance needs sustained vigilance. So we continue to appeal to all Armenians to stand with us to whatever extent possible so that no hurting Armenian, anywhere in the world, is left out in the cold. Even when the pandemic is behind us and Lebanon is able to stabilize from the shock of the widespread destruction, AGBU will be ready to rise to global challenges as never before. That’s going to be the ‘new normal’ for us, as a force for hope and healing worldwide.”
The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) is the world’s largest non-profit organization devoted to upholding the Armenian heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs. Each year, AGBU is committed to making a difference in the lives of 500,000 people across Armenia, Artsakh and the Armenian diaspora. Since 1906, AGBU has remained true to one overarching goal: to create a foundation for the prosperity of all Armenians. To learn more visit www.agbu.org.
Moments after the blast: images from the AGBU Demirdjian Center which had been filled with campers, volunteers and staff at the time of the disaster.