STEPANALERT—Haik Village, one of the northernmost communities of liberated Kashatagh (formerly Lachin), on Tuesday, celebrated the opening of its village school after complete reconstruction. The school has been rebuilt through the joint efforts of the Tufenkian Foundation and the Hayrenaser organization. Tufenkian Foundation Executive Director Raffi Doudaklian, Stepan Sargsyan of the Hayrenaser organization, Deputy Head of Kashatagh regional administration Artush Mkhitaryan and other guests attended the opening.
Prior to the reconstruction, the school was in an extremely poor state and was unsafe for children to attend. Moreover, part of the building was in complete ruins. As a result of 4-month long reconstruction works, a new roof has been built, new windows and doors have been installed, bathrooms have been added and general improvements have been made.
The historically Armenian Hak village, which was subjected to ethnic cleansing by Azeri armed forces in the beginning of the 20th century, was liberated by Armenians during the early 1990s. However, like most villages in Kashatagh, the village found itself in dire need of resettlement, reconstruction and development after the war.
Today, Hak is one of the fastest growing village communities in the liberated borderlands of Artsakh. Out of 110 persons living in the village, 50 are children. Due to the poor state of the school prior to reconstruction, some of the village’s school-age children had to go to the secondary school of a nearby village. With the number of children soaring, rebuilding the local school had long become a top priority for this community.
As a result of the reconstruction and improvement works, the school has been transformed from war-torn ruins into a well-built, safe and bright learning space for the children of Hak. 15 children currently attend the school. However, due to the reconstruction, up to 50 children can study at the school from now on, including from neighboring villages.
Congratulating the people of Hak with this new victory, Tufenkian Foundation Executive Director Raffi Doudaklian said: “Very soon, the school will have almost 50 children, and it is these children that will bring the school and the whole village alive by filling these halls with their laughter and smiles, with a joyful and life-asserting noise… and it is these children that, by growing up in this historic village, will breathe life into our liberated lands and reaffirm them as an inseparable part of our homeland.”
In addition to being the sole educational institution in the village, the school is also an important community center, where various cultural and social events can take place. The school is also a key employer for the community: 9 full-time teachers and 5 administrative employees currently work here.
Stepan Sargsyan, co-founder of the Hayrenaser Organization, said: “We are very happy that this school is now a reality, and that, together with the Tufenkian Foundation, we were able to bring this project to life in such a short time. We are looking forward to the day when these classrooms are too small for all the children studying here, so we can come back and happily expand the school”.
Artush Mkhitaryan, Deputy Head of Kashatagh regional administration, expressed his gratitude to the Tufenkian Foundation and the Hayrenaser Organization and said “We feel stronger when we see the support of Diaspora Armenians, of all Armenians, in joining our efforts to rebuild this country”.
The reconstruction of the Hak school is a part of the Tufenkian Foundation’s efforts to resettle and develop the liberated borderlands of Artsakh. In the framework of this initiative, the Foundation has completed more than 40 construction works in the strategic Kashatagh region: a number of homes, schools and clinics have been built or renovated.
Supporting the schools of Kashatagh has been a priority for the Foundation throughout the recent years. In addition to the school in Hak, the Foundation has built and later expanded the school of Arajamugh village, renovated the school of Hochants village, established an elementary school in Getap and renovated the school of Aghavnatun village. Additionally, the Foundation has provided musical instruments to the music school of Berdzor and built/expanded school libraries in all villages of Kashatagh.
The Tufenkian Foundation has partnered with and received support from a number of individuals and organizations for the realization of these efforts, including the Armenian Educational Foundation (Arajamugh school), Virginia Davies (Hochants school), Armenian Community Council of Great Britain (Getap school), OneArmenia and the Armenian Centre Trust UK (Aghavnatun school).
The Tufenkian Foundation was launched in 1999 by entrepreneur James Tufenkian with the mission to empower the initiatives of local citizens, support the most vulnerable strata of the society, promote environmental protection and awareness, and advance social justice in Armenia. Since 2003, the Foundation has broadened its scope to embattled Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh), where it promotes resettlement and development projects in the vulnerable border zones of the region.