In the early 20th century, the city of Constantinople was a multicultural center at the literal crossroads of Europe and Asia. An estimated 3,200 Armenian refugees came to Constantinople in 1920 and 1921 with many more still on the way. Widowed by the horrors of the Armenian Genocide, many of the women refugees were forced to leave their children at home alone while they looked for work throughout the day. A solution was critically needed.
Today, the need to address crisis and social unrest through various art forms continues. Art, in all its forms, still serves as a powerful tool to shine a light on the work of organizations like the Near East Foundation, its history, and the plight of the people it continues to serve today.
Rev. Wirt and Viscount Shibusawa spearhead the effort of The Japanese people. Their work provided much-needed aid to the Armenian people and refugees. Special thanks to NERHS contributing scholar, Vicken Babkenian, who is an independent researcher for the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Sydney, for providing the information, his presentation, and photographs for this dispatch.