AGBU London Branch. History
The founders of the AGBU established relations with the Armenian community in England soon after its inception in 1906.Vice-President Yervant AghatonBey came to Manchester with a letter from President BoghosNubar Pasha and attended the Community General
Meeting on the 1stof July 1907, which elected the first Executive Committee of the AGBU Manchester Branch. The Manchester branch continues to exist to this day.
Until the breakout of the 1st World War, AGBU established schools, libraries, workshops, hospitals, and orphanages for all Armenians in historic Armenia and provided the poor peasants with land, seeds, animals, and tools. During the horrors of the 1915-1920 Armenian Genocide, AGBU world- wide mobilised its members to bringhumanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of victims. AGBU orphanages, relief camps, schools, hospitals, housing for refugees and warehouses for supplies were established in Syria, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon. AGBU London played its part by co-operating with the Armenian Red Cross, sending substantial humani-tarian aid for the survivors of the Genocide. Over the ensuing decades, AGBU concentrated its humanitarian efforts on the resettlement of Armenian refugees, the support of some 150 Armenian schools in the Middle East and Europe, the repatriation of close to 100,000 European and Middle Eastern Armenians to Armenia and, critically, during the Soviet era, helped the survival of the Armenian Church.
Over the same period, the London Branch continued collecting donations, organising fund-raising activities and sending the proceeds to the Central Board, to be used for Armenians in need.
After 1944, AGBU fundraised over $2 million for the general purpose of assisting immigration and supporting postwar Armenia. In 1950-88s AGBU assisted Armenia through the Church. In 1983 AGBU opened Alex Manoogian treasury house in Holy See of St. Etchmiatsin.
After the earthquake of 1988 AGBU took immediate action, overseeing critical emergency relief efforts that saved tens of thousands of lives. By the end of 1991, AGBU had raised over $10 million for the earthquake to support the needs of the victims.
Following the inception of theindependent Republic of Armenia, AGBU focused its efforts along with its humanitarian initiatives towards preserving and strengthening the vital infrastructures to prevent an exodus of talents.
The organisation sponsored the major national cultural and educational institutions, helping with the introduction of a western model of education.
AGBU continues to stand in solidarity with Armenia and has provided in the arenas of education, culture, religion and healthcare/social assistance since 1991.
Some of the efforts include:
• Significant support provided to the American University of Armenia, Yerevan State University and the French University of Armenia.
• AGBU Children’s Centres and kindergartens
• Renovation of a large number of secondary schools
AGBU renovated the old facility of Gyumri Art Academy,completely destroyed during the earthquake. Since the renovation, the enrolment in the Academy has increased from 9 students to over 150.
AGBU has had large contribution in the construction of countless churches and religious institutions in partnership with the Holy See of Etchmiatsin, including St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral and Vaskenian Theological Seminary on Lake Sevan.
AGBU has made substantial contributions in the fields of public health and medicine providing medical equipment and training to medical personnel and establishing well-equipped modern diagnostic facilities.
AGBU partnered with the Holy See of Etchmiatsin to fund the renovation and expansion of its many health and social service centres and institutions, including refurbishing the old “Pioneer Palaces” and replacing them by educational centres for children where specialised teachers and artistscould provide daily after-school classes in creative and performing arts.
Other significant projects include: establishment & managing of HyeGeen Pregnant Women’s Centres in Vanadzor,Talin and Yeghvart, Senior Dining Centres (Soup Kitchens), AGBU Ultrasound Centre, St. Nersess Hospital, etc.
AGBU has also invested efforts in various projects in Stepanakert, Karabakh and surrounding villages over the past decade, including providing vital support to toward the creation of schools and residences.
AGBU continues to provide assistance to the Karabakh Chamber Orchestra and has recently partnered with the New Education Strategy, which brings world of technology to classrooms and disadvantaged students throughout the region.