Blood For Memory: A Unique Approach to Honoring the Genocide Centennial

By Audrey Selian

It was a busy day on Sat., Nov. 1 at the Blood Donation Center at the University Hospital of Geneva (HUG) in Switzerland; nearly a dozen people descended upon the small donation center to kick off the launch of Blood For Memory (BFM), a global campaign designed to gather 1.5 million blood donations from around the world as an act memorializing the forthcoming Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.

The events of the day were especially important for Kegham Avedisyan, 100, who was present with three generations of his family, including his great-grandchildren, aged 4 and 2. Avedisyan’s immediate family were survivors of the genocide; he himself was subjected to the horrors of work camps in eastern Turkey as late as the early 1940’s.

“Thanks to ‘Blood For Memory,’ we can peacefully commemorate a senseless tragedy,” he stated. For this Geneva resident of over 50 years, “… it’s vital to remind people that vigilance and solidarity with those who need it are key to ensuring that history does not repeat itself.” In 1920, Avedisyan’s father Krikor left Istanbul to travel as far as Washington, D.C. to eventually meet President Woodrow Wilson through a legal intermediary. Having been deported during the period of mass killings but having narrowly escaped thanks to the help of Turkish friends, he was intent on discussing the plight of the Armenian populations in Ottoman Turkey.



The Blood For Memory team hails from Geneva, and the project sits under the aegis of the Swiss Committee for Armenian Organizations for the commemoration of the 2015 Centennial. They have built their website on a volunteer basis, translating content into 12 languages to help achieve maximal international exposure. The project is truly a global blood drive, inviting people to participate in the commemoration not only of the Armenian Genocide, but of all genocides and crimes against humanity.

“This is just the beginning,” explained Lucy Baghramian, co-founder of the initiative. Her co-founder Vanik Baghramian added, “The victims of such crimes did not choose to give their blood or their lives. Today, in their memory, we give ours in the hope that it helps people, and we hope that many will follow suit.”


Kegham and his grandson Alec Avedisyan, a blood donor
Kegham and his grandson Alec Avedisyan, a blood donor

A unique alternative for activism

In 2013, the city of Geneva barely cleared 70 percent of its blood donation needs for the entire year, a common trend in most major cities and urban centers. The BFM team aims to restore a strong local momentum around donations. “Contrary to the popular Ice Bucket Challenge, this is a direct action that people can make to save lives,” said Alec Avedisyan, the grandson of Kegham Avedisyan and a blood donor.

Kegham and BFM Team Lucy Baghramian, Vanik Baghramian, and Audrey Selian
Kegham and BFM Team Lucy Baghramian, Vanik Baghramian, and Audrey Selian

The BFM project offers each of us an opportunity to support our local community, irrespective of where we live. The act of giving blood helps those suffering from illnesses, or those who may have difficult deliveries. For example, for every difficult birth, a woman may need as much as the equivalent of 15 blood donations to survive if she bleeds heavily. For a bad car accident, a single victim could need as many as the equivalent of 50 blood donations to live. These examples could have meaning for any one of us, or the family and friends in our immediate periphery. Above and beyond the act of memorializing, dedications on the website are a means by which to mobilize our peers and our communities.


How to get involved?

To help the BFM team achieve their goal of 1.5 million blood donations, participation is very simple:

  1. give blood at a local medical establishment in your city;
  2. register your donation on the BFM website (;
  3. share the photo of yourself giving your donation on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other social media network.

Join the team and their various partners and satellite teams in kicking off the campaign for achieving 1.5 million blood donations. Act now. Help us turn the darkness into light.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

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