• 1925 - 1930

    From Near East Relief to Near East Foundation

    The Board appointed a Survey Commission to identify locations in need of continued assistance.  The orphans that were small children when Near East Relief began its work were now young adults seeking a livelihood. Upon the Survey Commission’s recommendation, Near East Relief began to focus on practical education in an effort to create sustainable societies.

    Greek Macedonia was a natural laboratory for Near East Relief’s transitional projects. Nearly two thirds of the 1.1 million ethnic Greeks that had left Asia Minor had settled in Macedonia. By 1929, approximately 9,000 former Near East Relief orphans had been “out-placed” to farming communities in rural Greek Macedonia. Using the former orphan population as a nucleus, Near East Relief implemented a rural education program that grew to include refugees and native populations.

  • “Imagine My Happiness”: Sophie Kyriakou’s Story

    Sophie Kyriakou was only four years old when her father was killed and her mother died. Young Sophie found herself in a Near East Relief orphanage in Athens, where she devoted herself to learning. Sophie graduated from the Home Economics School in Athens and joined the Near East Foundation in Greek Macedonia as a home economics instructor.

    Sophie’s taught basic skills like cooking and sewing. She also educated women and girls about sanitation in the home as a way to avoid illness. Sophie was working in Greek Macedonia when the Italian army invaded Greece in 1940, sparking Greece’s involvement in World War II. Greece suffered heavy damage under Axis occupation.

    The Near East Foundation organized centers called “Eagle’s Nests” to care for children from 1700 destroyed villages. The Eagle’s Nests provided food, clothing, medical care, and education. Sophie Kyriakou found her calling as the director of the Eagle’s Nest at Agrinion, where she supervised 200 children.

  • Imagine my happiness, I, who had been a homeless and helpless orphan, now a grown woman, helping children who were going through the same heartbreaking trials which I had experienced as a child!
    My joy knows no bounds!

    Former orphan Sophie Kyriakou in a Near East Foundation brochure from the 1940s
  • The Armenian Diaspora

    Some refugee settlements developed into permanent communities, while other Armenian refugees immigrated to other countries. This gave rise to a thriving Armenian diaspora. Thousands of Armenians settled Syria, particularly in the urban areas of Beirut and Aleppo.  Many Armenians remained in Greece, where they assimilated with the local community while maintaining their Armenian Apostolic faith.

    Tens of thousands of Armenian refugees emigrated from areas of French-controlled Syria to France, settling mainly in Paris and Marseilles. The French-Armenian population is the largest in Europe.

  • Armenia

    Armenia was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1922. It remained a Soviet Socialist Republic until 1990, when it became the first  to secede from the Soviet Union and claim independence. The Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. The Independent Republic of Armenia elected its first president the same year.

  • Armenians In America

    Thousands of Armenians immigrated to the United States to join family members in Los Angeles and New York City. Thriving Armenian communities developed in Massachusetts and Illinois. War and economic instability in the Middle East and the collapse of the Soviet Union prompted a new wave of Armenian immigration to the United States and France in the 1990s.

  • The Republic of Turkey

    The Republic of Turkey was recognized as a continuation of the Ottoman Empire under the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. The Treaty also forced a population exchange: 1.1 million ethnic Greeks left their homes in Turkey for Greece, and 380,000 Muslims living in Greece moved to Turkey. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk served as president until his death in 1938. To date, Turkey has not acknowledged the events of 1915 – 1922 as genocide.

  • Slideshow: 100 Years of Relief and Development

  • “Those who dwell in the Near East have been impressed, through the work of this Committee, with what they regard as the true spirit of our people. They can see embodied in the fifteen years of disinterested operations, the sincere desire and purpose to render help to peoples in extreme need . . . and consciousness of having responded to a call to duty.”

    President Calvin Coolidge, The Story of Near East Relief by James L. Barton, 1930