Karabakh Repopulation Project Opens School in Norashen and Begins Construction of Jrakn Village
AGBU Press Office
On September 11, 2006, the opening ceremony of the new Norashen School took place in Karabakh’s Hadrut region. With 32 pupils enrolled, the elementary school, designed to accommodate 80 students, has eight classrooms, one event hall, a teacher’s lounge and a principal’s office. The official ribbon cutting was followed by the groundbreaking ceremony of the nearby village of Jrakn, which was destroyed during the war and is situated 200 meters away from Norashen. Both initiatives are part of AGBU’s Karabakh Repopulation Project, which was initiated in 2002 and has been helping to rebuild the war-torn villages that remain abandoned following the 1988 to 1994 conflict with Azerbaijan.
Among the honored guests were AGBU representatives and Karabakh authorities, including: Karabakh President, Arkady Ghoukassian; Deputy Prime Minister, Ararat Danielian; Minister of Education, Culture and Sport, Kamo Atayan; Minister of Territorial Administration and Development of Industrial Infrastructures, Armo Tsaturian; Migration, Refugees and Repopulation Department Head, Pavel Nadjarian; Head of Hadrut Administration, Valery Gevorkian; AGBU Central Board Member, Levon Kebabdjian; and AGBU Armenia Representation Director, Ashot Ghazarian.
President Ghoukassian underscored the importance of such projects, expressing his gratitude to all AGBU donors and supporters who are committed to the reconstruction of Karabakh. “For many years now, AGBU has been carrying out programs in Karabakh. Always standing by our side, the Union, together with us, is facilitating the repopulation of Karabakh. This must serve as an example to other organizations,” he said.
Students welcomed the guests and thanked the donors that made it all possible with a speech of gratitude. Sitting on the school bench of the newly refurbished classroom, 13-year-old Khachik Hoveyan exuded happiness and satisfaction. “I could have never imagined that I would attend such a beautiful school. I have decided to study a lot, become a doctor and come to work in the medical center of Norashen to help my fellow villagers,” Khachik said.
The event was widely covered by local and Armenian mass media. At the end of the ceremony, AGBU representatives presented the school children with bags filled with school supplies, ensuring that students have the proper tools to pursue their education.
The construction of the Norashen School is part of AGBU’s Karabakh Repopulation Project, and AGBU’s Southern Californian District Committee and Sydney Chapter, which contributed nearly $90,000 to the project, financed the facility. AGBU Toronto also donated to the project and AGBU Young Professional Groups raised the funds to help furnish the institution. Additional financial support came directly from private AGBU donors.
“The village was reborn before our eyes with a kindergarten, a medical center and now a school. Thanks to AGBU, our village lives and flourishes. I am very grateful both as a teacher and as a local resident,” said Nuara Gevorkian, the only school teacher from Norashen.
On May 4, 2006, a medical center, made possible through the gifts of French donors Ara and Silva Aharonian, the Union of French Armenian Doctors (UMAF) and the financial support of the Karabakh government, opened in the village. While the center has a permanent nurse, doctors and nurses form Hadrut regional clinic will visit the rural community twice a week to examine and treat local villagers free of charge. AGBU Central Board Member Levon Kebabdjian, Ara Aharonian and the Deputy Prime Minister, Health Minister and Social Welfare Minister for Karabakh all attended the ceremonial ribbon cutting. The youthful spirit of Norashen is underlined by the fact that two weddings took place in the village over the past two years, a remarkable number for a settlement of its size.
The reconstruction of Norashen, located about 45 miles southeast of Stepanakert, began in 2001. The village has 22 houses, and the infrastructure of Norashen will also serve the neighboring Jrakn village, which was initiated by AGBU Central Board member Michael Ansour. Planned in two stages, the construction of the first 10 houses will be finished by the first quarter of 2007. Another 10 houses will be built by summer 2008.