Vahe Balabanian

Vahe Balabanian

Above all, we Armenians benefited from the kindness of others in our hour of need and now we are telling our stories to the world so that its memory is not erased and no other nation suffers our fate.

My family’s story of suffering begins long before 1915. My grandmother’s side had to flee the Hamidian massacres in 1895-96, leaving Tokat in Turkey to go to Haifa, in modern-day Israel. My great-grandfather married a Palestinian woman and that is how they were able to escape to Haifa.

Some years later my grandmother met my grandfather in Jerusalem, they married and moved on to Cairo, Egypt in 1911. My grandfather set up a grocery store and in 1912 he traveled to Turkey for supplies. He was conscripted into the Turkish army and we never saw him again. Later that year my father was born, an orphan. He never saw his father and soon lost his mother, who died of a heart attack when she was just 45 .We do not really know who helped my family to escape from the massacres.

I never knew either of my grandparents. 

My Armenian heritage gives me the strength to succeed against all the odds. That strength comes from knowing that we endured the Armenian genocides with our heads held high. We cannot allow that memory to be lost. We opened our schools and churches throughout the diaspora, preserving our culture and continuing to contribute to the arts and science all over the world.