The history of AGBU in Australia, and of Alex Manoogian Saturday School, trace their roots back to the historic day in 1906, when the visionary Boghos Nubar Pasha and others stablished what was to become a global Armenian philanthropic organisation.
The AGBU became a source of comfort and strength for the generation orphaned by the 1915 Genocide, equipping survivors with a sense of purpose and a motivation to rebuild their lives. Through its service to our nation, the AGBU bore witness to the old axion that ‘unity is strength’.
In over a century of fulfilling its mission, the AGBU has become the largest Armenian philanthropic organisation, supporting, serving standing with and dedicating itself to the needs of the Armenian nation through wide range of activities.
The AGBU has tried to keep in step with the needs of the times, and has been flexible in adjusting to changes in the political and economic landscape. And so, in 1924, the AGBU Headquarters moved from Cairo to Geneva and from there to Paris, eventually finding its resting place in New York City, USA.
Through its many chapters in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora, the AGBU continues to fulfil its educational, cultural, scientific and sports mission.
Often, the decline of one diasporan community heralds the birth of a new one. Over the past 100 years, the fate of the Armenian people has (interruptions notwithstanding, especially in the Middle East) followed the same pattern of community-formation inherited from the Ottoman Empire in 1915. As Armenians started emigrating from the Middle Eastern to faraway Sydney, they brought with them the familiar trilogy of community structures: church, school and community centre.
Armenian migration to Australia began in the 1850s, in particular with the arrival of businessman from India and the Far East. The next phase of settlement came with the survivors and orphans of the Armenian Genocide in 1915, who gave birth to the Diaspora as we know it. Finally, following World War Two, and in particular beginning in the 1960s, large number of Armenians chose Australia as their new destination, forming the Australian-Armenian community as we know it.
In the midst of the struggles facing Armenians in different parts of the world, 1963 was a year of celebration for the AGBU family as its Sydney Chapter commenced its work. The Chapter had been inaugurated in 1962 under the auspices of His Eminence, Bishop Assoghig Ghazarian, and with the active support and efforts of Rev. Father Aramais Mirzaian.
The AGBU Sydney Chapter’s first committee was as follows:
Honorary President: His Eminence, Bishop Assoghig Ghazarian
Honorary Vice President: Rev. Father Aramais Mirzaian
Chairman: Mack Hagopian
Secretary : Vahan Hannesian
Treasurer: Armen Apcar
Advisor: Edgar A. Edgar and Nahabed M. Nahabed.
Life is unpredictable and full of surprises, both good and bad. That surprise, in my case, was an ugly war that started in Syria, my birthplace. This war spread through the entire nation until it reached my hometown, Aleppo, which forced my family to make difficult decisions that would mark the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. Like many other Armenian families, we travelled to Yerevan, Armenia to get away from the chaotic situation, until it was safe for us to return, as we thought it wouldn’t be too long. However, the conditions got worse in Syria, and we couldn’t go back. I attended Khachik Dashtents High School in Yerevan, where everyone was very welcoming and supportive. However, I found myself searching for the warmth of my first school, which I had attended since I was three. AGBU’s Lazar Najarian Calouste Gulbenkian School had been a second home to me and to every student who had attended there. I had too many good memories in my school and as a member in AGBU-AYA’s different branches, and could not easily let go. I tried to fill the void, and found in AGBU Yerevan’s Scout movement a friendly environment, where I met new people who shared my passion for AGBU. I spent almost a year in Armenia, visiting different places in our motherland, and enjoying my time with my fellow scouts. All that came to an end when we had to go to Lebanon, with the hope of moving to Australia. Beirut was not a strange environment, as we had been there before, and due to the situation in Syria, there were many familiar faces, which made my stay there even more loving and familiar. There, I attended AGBU’s Tarouhy – Hovagimian Secondary School as a year twelve student. There I joined the AGBU’s AYA Scout movement, and became a brownies’ leader, which gave me the opportunity to spend time with an amazing group of devoted members. This, too, had to come to an end, and we had to move again to start our new life. I was overwhelmed with mixed emotions of sadness for leaving my friends, and of happiness for the new life that was awaiting in Sydney with my family. Finally, I arrived in Sydney, Australia. Relatives and family friends welcomed us and did their best for the next few months to make us feel at home and help us get settled. Once again AGBU welcomed me with open arms through their Tamzara dance group, and later on as a member of AGBU Youth and now the AGBU Youth Committee. The last four years feel like a lifetime away, and putting it into words seem too easy compared to what I experienced. I’ve learnt to cherish what I have and make the most of my time, no matter where I am. I feel lucky, somehow, for going through what I have, because it helped me become a mature person, and gain a different perspective of life. I still smile whenever I remember those days, and the people I have met will stay in my heart with the hope of meeting them again. Written by Anie Kurumlian. If you share a similar story, or would like to meet and help those who do, please join us at...read more
Sunday night’s results are in! We had a few tough game with the boys both taking a lose, and the girls with a great victory! Women’s Division C Final score 20-14 Men’s Division E 19-29 Men’s Division C Final score 25-35 Here’s a happy snap of the victorious ladies with their manager and new coach! Good work...read more
On Friday 24 April, AGBU Alexander Primary School held a wreath laying ceremony at the Armenian Genocide and ANZAC memorials in ‘Memorial Park’ at Meadowbank. In attendance were City of Ryde Councillors Sarkis Yedelian and Artin Etmekdjian joined by parents, graduates and members of the community. Photos by Albert...read more