28 April 2006

Two admirable schools need your attention

Azad-Hye, Dubai

By Taline Babikian

24 April is not a day of mourning only, but a day to celebrate life that we
are still here and alive.

Under what circumstances the Turkish government might accept the Genocide,
no one knows. No one even knows if we will see this acceptance, but we all
work in our own ways to see it come true. No blood is cheap, no soul is
worthless. We are humans.

I thank all governments who have accepted the Genocide, I thank all
individuals and organisations who work for this cause. I thank all who keep
the proofs of the Genocide alive, be it pictures, stories, diaries,
documentaries, schools. I thank teachers who teach who we are, where we come
from, the values of our heritage and the ability to balance all these with
our immediate environment.

Education is a universe that opens doors to many things; with wisdom hand in
hand with education much could be done.

My letter today is not mainly about 24 April, we know this by heart. My
letter today is about 2 institutions that have marked my life - Birds' Nest
and Melkonian Educational Institute (MEI).

Both have been the shelters of victims of 1915 events.

Birds' Nest is a home now for children from broken families and orphans who
live and study there. It is also the school where the small Armenian
community of Byblos send their children to. A multi-purpose institute.
Birds' Nest needs your help. Birds' Nest's history is very important as it
served as a home to many children back from the 1920 till today. The
archives show many pictures from that time, many victims of the 1915. Birds'
Nest was founded by Ms Mary Jacobson, an admirable character of compassion
and strength. It needs your donation.

Melkonian on the other hand even though it was founded in the 1920s as a
shelter and orphanage evolved into something much greater then one could
expect. From an orphanage that sheltered children from the 1915, to a well
known educational institute recognised, admired and complimented by many.

This Institute was founded by 2 brothers Krikor and Garabed Melkonian. Their
aim was and is to have graduates from their Institute to be strong in
whatever corner of the world they go. They have a vision and that vision is
to have as many students from the diaspora to attend their school and get
deep and strong knowledge of their ancestors, culture heritage and of course
combined with admirable level of education. Thousands passed from Melkonian,
thousands went into the four corners of the world, having the knowledge of
who they are.

Whatever your background, you came out knowing more about Armenian history,
music, folk dance ... much more than a typical Armenian school can offer.
Coming from diverse social environmental life, the students were able to
learn how other students lived in their respective countries and built
frienships and many later married.

In their will the Melkonian brothers asked AGBU CB of that time to manage
the school with conditions ensuring that the school functions at all times
and if at any time AGBU CB is not able to manage they must hand over the
management of MEI to the Patriarch of Istanbul as sole inheritor.

The MEI court case has ordered now to freeze all assets of MEI in Cyprus.

Alumni in many countries, individuals, Pro Edvcatio, joined efforts to stop
this wrong and unjust move of the CB of AGBU who at first ignored the
letters, petitions, emails that were sent to their head office in New York.

Many AGBU members who are Melkonian graduates were not able to support due
to the fact that they are employees or somehow been manipulated and couldn't
voice their opinion. Even AGBU members who are not "Melkoniantsi" do not
approve what's happening at the top of the management, but their questions
and remarks are falling on deaf ears.

The school's Board of Directors was ignored. In the last 2-3 years the
school was actually run by Mr. Anderson, whose job turned out to be
establishing the closing procedure of MEI.

Many still believe in the noble aim of AGBU, but AGBU is something and its
CB is another issue, from whom the members must start to demand transparency
of accounts in all the departments, something that we haven’t seen in ages.

Blind trust is not advisable in any institute.

AGBU unfortunately is not run with the same spirit of late presidents, even
though the motto is the same it is only on paper.

I hope to see AGBU CB reverse its point of view. The rent that the CB is
collecting from the commercial centers that should be going to the school’s
fund is going to the pockets of the AGBU.

That income must have gone to MEI’s fund many years ago.

There is no shame is reversing a decision, it will not discredit AGBU CB,
but it will show to all that even our leaders like our parents make mistakes
that they should fix.

A genocide of education and culture is taking place while we’re looking back
at past events.

This message is against the decision of closing MEI, it is to support our
schools, to send our children to our schools rather then putting them to
local schools from early age.

Two admirable schools need your attention.

Taline Babikian could be reached at the following e-mail:

Find more details about how to support Melkonian Educational Institute:

See collection of photos on Cyprus Armenians, including photos taken of
students during the last academic year in the Melkonian Educational
Institute (2004-2005). Azad-Hye photo collection:


Photo: Students during the last academic year 2004-2005

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