Thursday, March 12, 2015

100 LIVES Initiative Launched in New York

NEW YORK (A.W.) – The launch of an initiative entitled 100 LIVES was announced on March 10 in New York. The project will celebrate those who saved Armenians during the genocide, and support individuals and organizations that keep the legacy of gratitude alive.
The initiative is led by a group of Diasporan Armenians including the President of Carnegie Corporation Vartan Gregorian, and entrepreneurs Ruben Vardanyan and Noubar Afeyan

The project aims to uncover and recount stories about survivors and their saviors, which will be collected through academic research, personal accounts, and story submissions by the public to the website.
“The humanity, generosity, strength and sacrifice shown by those who saved so many Armenians compel us to tell these stories,” said Ruben Vardanyan, co-founder of 100 LIVES. “Now is the time to shine a light on those most extraordinary lives, to build on the lessons they teach us, and to express our gratitude for what they did.”

Academy Award winner and activist George Clooney joined Vardanyan on stage in a panel moderated by managing editor of Washington Week and co-anchor and co-managing editor of PBS NewsHour, Gwen Ifill.  When asked why it was important for him to be involved in such a project, Clooney explained that it is these types of initiatives that help shed light on ongoing atrocities. “We don’t want to triage in the end, I think that’s silly and too late. Our thought was let’s explore anyway we can to expose these things and make it more difficult to happen in the broad daylight, because we know it happens in the dark,” said Clooney.
“We really want people to get involved with 100 LIVES, to celebrate those that overcome adversity and give back to others, just as the Armenian community is doing in this centenary year,” said Clooney.

The Aurora Prize is named after Aurora Mardiganian who, as a child, survived the Armenian Genocide and 
went on to devote her life to providing humanitarian relief and raising awareness about the plight of the Armenians. Mardiganian is best known for starring in “Ravished Armenia,” also known as “Auction of Souls,” a 1919 American film based on the Armenian Genocide.
One of Mardiganian’s relatives, Ani Karabashian, addressed the crowd on behalf the family and stressed the importance of the initiative.
The 100 LIVES initiative will also digitize the written record of the Armenian Genocide—something that the founders believe can help preserve the memory of the genocide.
“There are a small number of survivors of the Armenian Genocide left with us. It is crucial that we ensure that, as we approach the centennial, we take this opportunity to leave a lasting imprint of what happened a century ago onto the world’s collective conscience,” said Vartan Gregorian.
“Resilience, strength, survival and gratitude are characteristics exhibited by Armenians, though not by us exclusively. They are found in all people,” said 100 LIVES co-founder Noubar Afeyan, adding, “We developed the concept of #BeArmenian #BeAlive to encapsulate the strength of the human spirit – not just for Armenians, but for everyone.”

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