BURBANK — Over 250 community members attended the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund’s (SARF) Special Public Gathering on October 10, 2016 at Kalaydjian Hall of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church to pray for the victims and to protest the continued violence against innocent civilians in Aleppo.

As civil unrest devastates Syria, Armenians have become innocent victims of the ongoing conflict. Since 2011, the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund (SARF) has led numerous initiatives to provide immediate aid and assistance to Armenians in the war-torn country. The collaborative efforts of the major Armenian organizations have played an active role to meet the humanitarian needs of the Syrian-Armenian community.

Concerned by the crisis in Syria, the event drew in community leaders, including His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian; His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian,; Evangelical Church Reverend Berdj Djambazian; Consul General of the Republic of Armenia Valerie Mkrtumian; leaders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Social Democrat Hunchakian, and Armenian Democratic Liberal (Ramgavar) parties; representatives of the Armenian Relief Society,  Armenian General Benevolent Union, Armenian National Committee, Armenian Bar Association, Armenian American Medical Society; editors of Asbarez, Massis, and Nor Or newspapers; and community members at large.

The program commenced with prayer and the singing of Der Voghormia (Lord Have Mercy). Opening remarks were delivered by SARF Executive Committee Secretary, Sona Madarian. She recalled Siamanto’s famous words, “Oh human justice, I spit in your face” and indicated how, once again, Armenians are at the epicenter of a historic event, which is reminiscent of the conditions endured by our ancestors a century ago.

Thereafter, SARF Executive Committee Member Vazken Madenlian presented the organization’s structure and discussed future plans, including the announcement of an upcoming telethon aimed at extending a helping hand and providing our compatriots in Syria with a light of hope to secure their basic necessities.

SARF Executive Committee Chairperson Raffi Kendirjian, informed of the displacement of thousands of families and the innocent lives lost to brutality. The vast destruction of the civic and human infrastructures has pushed our oldest Armenian community into a humanitarian tragedy. He called upon and urged the public “to work hand in hand to elevate the spirit of our brothers and sisters, who deserve our collective financial and moral support as they confront psychological and physical burdens.”

Following remarks, Mrs. Dzovig Nashalian performed Gomidas’ “Groung” for attendees.

Reverend Berdj Djambazian, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, and Consul General Valerie Mkrtumian all stressed the importance of being at the forefront of this movement and uniting as one nation to preserve the Armenian community. They called on the community to commit to serving our people. The program came to a close with the benediction delivered by spiritual leaders.

The mission of the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund (SARF) is to provide financial assistance to Syrian Armenians, who are victims of the ravaging Syrian civil war. Donations can be made payable to SARF and mailed to P.O. Box 1948, Glendale, CA 91208-1948 or online at www.SyrianArmenianReliefFund.org.

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