In 1916, Efkeretzi men living in Detroit formed a compatriotic organization called “The Orphans of Efkere”. This was a benevolent organization that raised funds to aid and assist Efkeretzis in need. Shown below is a small booklet that was printed by the organization in 1916. From the Garabed Kojaian papers.
A photograph, likely from 1920, shows at least some of the members.
The photograph was originally published in Out of Turkey, by Harry Yessaian. In that book, the gentlemen pictured are identified as: Seated from left to right: Mr. Dedeian, Minas Kayserian, Vahram Boyajian or Dickran Choukourian, Parnak (Paroug) Paulian, Mamassian or Kalajian and Boyadjian. Standing, middle row: Varter Sirian, John Solakian, Garabed (Charles) Warterian, Aram Paulian, Karnig (Carl) Bahadurian, Mirijan Bahadurian, Yervant Bahadurian. Standing, back row: Boghos Stepanian, Parsegh Sinamian, Mike Shahbazian, Charles Shahbazian, Garabed (Charles) Kojaian, Onnig
Near East Relief Identification Card.
The monastery in Efkere (Surp Garabed Vank), would become an orphanage at one point. I am grateful to Salpy Talian for allowing me to use this photograph of her grandfather’s identification card, issued by Near East Relief.. As can be seen, Kasbar Sildirian was born is Caesarea (Kayseri) in 1913. It would appear that he was first housed at the orphanage in Efkere, and then moved to an orphanage in Antelias, from which he was discharged.
It is difficult to establish a firm timeline for this monastery orphanage in Efkere. There is a small article in “The Acorne”, a publication of Near East Relief, that repots that “The Armenian Committee in charge of the large orphanages in Caesarea is planning to move the orphanage to the large monastery at Evkere.” So, without a doubt, the monastery was being used as an orphanage by 1920. It seems highly possible that it was being used prior to this date as an orphanage, as well.
I have not been able to find any documentation as to when it ceased to function as an orphanage.
The following map, initially published in Cairo in 1937, shows many of the villages surrounding Kayseri. Kayseri is underlined in red. Efkere, to the northeast, has a red box surrounding it. Other key villages of interest include Moonjoosoon (underlined in purple), Tomarza (underlined in yellow), Everek and Fennesse (underlined in green), and Talas (underlined in blue). The second map highlights just the area around Caesarea (Kayseri), with some of names of key cities and villages translated.