Group portrait from the Near East Relief Working Boys Home in Cairo, Egypt. Many Near East Relief orphanage graduates moved to Egypt to begin their careers. Both Cairo and Alexandria had sizable Armenia populations. Since the graduates were only 16 years old, Near East Relief provided a social structure to help them to acclimate to life as young professionals. Working Boys (and Girls) Homes offered classes and activities, as well as an opportunity for young people to socialize in a supervised environment. Orphanage graduates were encouraged to marry one another and have children as soon as they were self-supporting.
This photograph is from the collection of Nicole Tavitian Pawelski. Her grandfather, Simpad Tavitian, is in the second row from the top, slightly to the left of the “W” in “Working.” Simpad was born near Sivas, Turkey. He and his younger brother were orphaned in 1915 as a result of the Genocide. The boys were taken in by a Near East Relief orphanage. They spent much of their childhood at an orphanage in Aleppo (most likely as a result of NER’s evacuation from Turkey in 1921 – 1923) and later moved to Cairo. Simpad learned tailoring and went on to study at the Sorbonne. He escaped Paris before the Nazi occupation and settled in Cairo, where he married and had a son.