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Sunday, 12 April 2015

Armenians of Rangoon Raise Much Needed Funds for the Armenian Refugees' Relief Fund in 1916

Today in 2015, as the Armenian communities around the world prepare to remember the enormous loss of life that took place between 1915 and 1923 in the massacres of the Ottoman Empire Against the Armenians, it is interesting to see that even small communities in far off lands did what they could to send funds back to Armenia. Armenians in Rangoon tried to help the refugees in this devastating period of history. It is of course uncomfortable to think that some danced whilst others suffered and died 4,000 miles away, but those in Rangoon simply had no real idea of what was truly happening to their fellow Armenians.

The Rangoon Gazette 30 October 1916



A very well attended and enjoyable fancy dress dance took place at the Armenian Club on Friday night in aid of the Armenian Refugees’ Relief Fund.  The spacious dancing hall on the upper floor of the club house had been attractively decorated by Mr. S. Vertannes and other members of the club.  The occasion marked the presentation also of a Bull from the Catholicos of the Armenian Church to Mrs. Tarleton and Mrs. McCarthy, in recognition of their services to the Armenian cause.  Mrs Tarleton was not present, being at home in Ireland, but Mrs. McCarthy was present and the Bull, which was read in Armenian by the Rev. Vahan Aghan, priest of the Armenian Church in Rangoon, was presented to her by Mr. Manook who previously read an English translation of it.

The Bull, which had the official seal of the Catholicos George V, and bore his signature was as follows:

“George V, the Servant of Jesus Christ and, by the grace of God Catholicos of all the Armenians and Patriarch of the Holy Convent of Etchmiadzine, to excellent Mrs. Tarleton and Mrs. McCarthy sojourning at Rangoon, patriarchal greetings and blessings from the Apostolic and Catholic Church of Etchmiadzine.

Just as the heart of an afflicted father (like a spring flower refreshed by drops of rain) rejoices and puts on new vitality, so my afflicted father’s heart is rejoiced greatly at the news of the self-devoted efforts of you two ladies of another race, who have entirely laid aside your personal comfort and have brought your ardour to the assistance of a good object as perfect disciples of our great and loving Master, Jesus Christ, and have added your comfort to our sons and daughters in affliction, whose groanings and lamentations have reached so far, even unto you.

As a pledge of my appreciation of your sisterly efforts to alleviate the suffering of my children, exiles from the home of their fathers, I with my Patriarchal Bull express to my daughters in Christ my heartfelt thanks.  I bless you and pray to God to give you more and more grace and strength to carry out more and more Christian works to satisfy the various needs of my afflicted children.

May God raise up others as compassionate (as you) to co-operate with you, and for the accomplishment of this wish I will be always joined with you in prayer and rejoicing.

Wishing you good health, may you grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and be blessed through me for ever and ever. Amen.”

In making the presentation Mr. Manook dwelt upon the valuable help Mrs. McCarthy had rendered to the Armenians and the great gratitude felt by the Armenian community.

Mrs. McCarthy thanked Mr. Manook for his remarks after which cheers for Mrs. McCarthy and Mrs. Tarleton and Mrs. Vertannes were given. Mrs. McCarthy was presented on her arrival with a handsome bouquet by Miss Vertannes.

Among those present at the dance were all the leading members of the Armenian community and their families, except the present of the club, Mr. W. Shircore who is convalescing from the results of a recent serious operation, much regret being expressed at his absence.  There were fifteen dances on the programme which was augmented by a number of extras, and this made the dancing run into the early hours.  Amongst the many original and effective costumes, and there were many handsome ones, that of Miss Lake as a Kashmir girl was particularly striking and to her was awarded the prize for ladies, a handsome brooch with precious stones, presented by Messrs. Coombes Company Limited.  The costumes of Mrs. M. Minus, Miss A. Minus, Miss Vertannes, Mrs. Harding, Miss K. Jordan and several others were so good that the judging required some time.  It took place after the tenth dance when all paraded before the judges.  If the judging of the ladies costumes was difficult that of the gentlemen’s was more so, but it narrowed down to Mr. Mathews of Messrs. Rowe and Company as a clown, J. Johannes as a Hebrew, Mr. Vertannes and Mr. Bowman, Mr. Johannes winning the prize, a gold cigarette case presented by Messrs. P. Orr and Sons.  The catering was done by Mr. M. David of the Criterion Hotel and left nothing to be desired.

The result of the dance was stated to be very gratifying and the proceeds, which are expected to go over Rs.500, will be forwarded to the secretary for the Armenian Refugees’ Relief Fund to be sent to the Catholicos of all the Armenians for distribution.

To learn more about the genocide of the Armenians please take a look at the following sites or simply google 'Armenian genocide'.

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