A longtime and major benefactor of Armenia Fund USA, Antranig Baghdassarian of Los Angeles has had a leading role in the reconstruction of Talish, a village in Artsakh that suffered heavy damage during the April 2016 War.
Located mere minutes from the border with Azerbaijan, Talish was the first Armenian community to be attacked by the Azeri invaders in the early hours of April 1, 2016. By the time the hostilities had ended, Talish remained firmly in Armenian hands, but lay in ruins. Many fighters and civilians had lost their lives, and most public structures, homes, businesses, and infrastructures were partially or completely destroyed. As significantly, the entire population was displaced, and Talish had turned into a ghost town.
Yet no sooner had the war ended than Los Angeles-based Armenia Fund urgently focused its attention on rebuilding the community, resolved to help it literally rise from the ashes. To this end, Armenia Fund launched the Talish Revival Project, a large-scale reconstruction program made possible by the extraordinary generosity of Antranik Baghdassarian, with additional support from the government of Artsakh.
On May 20, 2018, with a jubilant ceremony in Talish attended by residents, dignitaries including Artsakh President Bako Sahaktan, Primate of the Artsakh Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church Archbishop Pargev Martirosyan, and representatives of Armenia Fund’s global partners, as well as Antranik Baghdassarian and Sossi Babelian, Armenia Fund unveiled a number of newly-completed projects across the village. In the short span since the war, the Fund had rebuilt the community center, the event hall, and 18 homes. As importantly, it had rebuilt a 45-kilometer potable-water network and constructed a new, 22-kilometer sewer system.
“These projects seek not only to improve living standards, but also, fundamentally, to help develop a country where the lives of citizens are anchored in values such as mutual respect, hard work, modesty, patriotism, and kindness,” President Sahakyan said in his remarks.
Following the opening ceremony, philanthropist Antranig Baghdassarian stated, “I couldn’t imagine that my donation would result in such large-scale reconstruction, and that there would be money left to continue our work. When I was a child my father used to tell me that I must learn how to use money properly and how to spend it wisely. My money is being used wisely here.”
Today, as residents of Talish are gradually returning to their birthplace, Armenia Fund continues to implement various projects in the community. These include the reconstruction of the school and the kindergarten, the complete renovation of the main road, and the reconstruction of 17 more homes. One key goal is to eventually rebuild a total of close to 70 homes, in order to accommodate the entire population of Talish.
“As a nation, we are known for not taking action unless the knife reaches the bone. That worries me,” Baghdassarian said. “I am convinced that if we join forces and strengthen our Homeland, we’ll have nothing to worry about. All we need is to trust and have faith in one another.”