Jim Chankalian

Special Section on Treaty of Sèvres and Cilicia: Return to Cilicia (from The Armenian Legionnaires Chapter 9 and Haygagan Lekeon)

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Boyajian notes that, of course, the task of settling the refugees was very difficult. As refugees were funneled from Aleppo to Adana, this process was undertaken voluntarily by Dr. Roland with Lt. Jim Chankalian as his aide. The refugees were encouraged to go back to their villages rather than stay in Adana, in order to ease overcrowding. Orphanages were set up, housing some 10,000 children. More orphans were to have come from Aleppo but it was not possible. Dr. Roland did more than find housing and created work for the refugees. Boyajian writes,

“In order to encourage the Armenian’s spirit of entrepreneurship, [Dr Roland] succeeded in securing credit from the French authorities to establish a carpet and handicraft factory within the Apkarian school, under the meticulous supervision of Lt Jim Chankalian. Employment was secured for nearly 300 hundred persons in this factory.”

An excerpt from a letter from Jim Chankalian (in English) dated 1920 is included in this description.

“Many women under my care have been taken from Turkish harems. Previously they were in an abominable state but, after a little care, they became entirely new women. I don’t have access to funds to carry out such work. I am spending all my monthly salary on them, but this is not enough.

“This is the greatest and most necessary work that we can do. These unfortunate women are all young. They flee from Turkish houses almost naked. It is impossible for me to see all this and not be affected. I enjoin them to be good, but how can they be content with half a loaf of bread daily? When they are naked and hungry, how can we expect them to be virtuous? My friend, this is the state of our exiled sisters. It has been eight months that I am busy with this work, but I have yet to receive any support from Armenian organizations. The funds given to me from the French government are absolutely inadequate.”

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