Friday is treated like a Sunday in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but nine days into 2015, which marks the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, the Dubai Blood Donation Center warmly opened its doors for a private donation event by the Armenian community there.
The event was in support of the “Blood for Memory” (BFM) initiative that aims to collect 1.5 million blood donations across the globe to honor the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide.
In a country where the majority of residents are expatriates, this gathering was special, for most participants did not know each other. The event was organized via a public Facebook page. Yet, in no time the blood donation center was transformed into some sort of community center, with parents socializing while donating blood and kids playing cheerfully in the hall.
None of the donors present had ever donated before. Until the BFM initiative reached us, we hadn’t even realized how important blood donations are. A car accident victim, for example, might need as many as 45 donations to survive. Blood donations are free, they are healthy. A donation takes only 20 minutes.
A global cause
A significant number of Armenians arrived in the United Arab Emirates back in the 1950’s. Today, there are about 5,000 Armenians in the UAE with 2 churches, community centers, and Sunday Schools. It was a privilege to give “drops of life” to this country that has warmly been hosting the Armenian community on its soil, while dedicating the donations symbolically to the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide.
Among the donors was Tate Bakalian, a UAE resident with roots going back to Moussa Ler and to Anjar in Lebanon. He reflected on the many tragedies the Armenian people have gone through—the massacres, the genocide, the World Wars, the Lebanese Civil War, the Artsakh War, the Earthquake of 1988, and most recently the crisis in Syria. “We often were in need for blood, a drop of life,” he told me. “100 years have passed since the Armenian Genocide, but we are still here because they failed, and we are proud to share life.” Another donor reminded us that how foreign nationals and nations saved and hosted the Armenian survivors of the genocide. “It’s a noble gesture to give back some life!”
But “Blood for Memory” aims to reach out to people of all origins. And so the organizers were very touched to see an Indian family walk in, saying they had come to “donate ‘Blood for Memory.’” The mother had randomly come across the event page on Facebook. They had never heard of Armenians and their story before. Now they have.
In addition to the many cheerful and intellectual events taking place among the Armenian community in Dubai, the BFM donation event was a particularly meaningful experience for everyone present.
Is it possible to get 1.5 million donations in 2015? We can do it, if you join us now.
“Blood for Memory” was launched in Geneva under the aegis of the Swiss Committee for Armenian Organizations in commemoration of the 2015 Centennial. A growing number of celebrities, as well as some Turkish intellectuals, are supporting the initiative. The website is built on a volunteer basis and has been translated into 12 languages to help achieve maximum international exposure. The project is looking for satellite teams to be established across the globe to help reach the goal of 1.5 million donations during 2015. For more information, visit www.bloodformemory.org.