The Haigazian University Press has issued the Armenian translation of the memoires of Alice Keep Clark (1873-1954), the missionary of the orphanage of Hadjin, with an introduction and annotations by Dr. Antranik Dakessian.
The orphanage, which had stopped functioning during the Genocide, was reactivated during the Armistice. The returning missionaries were instrumental in collecting some 260 orphans from the streets of Hadjin and neighboring villages, offering them education and protecting them from the dire living conditions prevailing in Hadjin.
After a peaceful year of reconstruction, Hadjin was besieged by the Turks. The orphanage, which was some half a mile outside the limits of the city, maintained neutrality and hoisted the American flag, which prevented the attacking Turks from controlling it.
Isolated in a sea of Turkish forces, the orphanage precariously continued its educational mission and maintained a relationship dictated by circumstances with the Turkish military commanders. Eventually, it was attacked and came under the control of Armenian defenders, who evacuated the orphans and the staff then abandoned it. After reoccupying the orphanage, the Turks pillaged it, burnt it down and sent the six foreign missionaries back to their central office in Constantinople.
During her stay in the orphanage Clark sent letters to her parents. These letters and the diary she kept during her stay in the orphanage constituted the core raw material of her book, Letters from Cilicia, an extremely touching, emotional narrative. It describes in frank terms the life of the orphans and the struggle of the caretakers to pull these poor children out of their misery and give them hope for a better life.
The book is the genuine account of a missionary witnessing the psychological changes of the orphans from hopeless creatures to poor boys and girls who start believing that the desperate years have gone for good and that they will be given the chance to work for a better life. Unfortunately, though, this little light of hope is brutally butchered by the marauding Turks. Indeed, than a dozen of these orphans.