Artsakh has undergone tremendous transformation during the past years. Stepanakert and Shushi have grown into dynamic cities. Houses, schools, hospitals and entire villages are being built and developed. Lands are being cultivated and jobs created all across Artsakh. While various organizations and funds working in the region play a significant role in these processes, the real champions of this development are the soldiers of the Self Defense Forces of Artsakh. Without their everyday sacrifice and bravery none of these would be possible.
However, due to the ongoing conflict, it is often the soldiers of Artsakh who find themselves in need of urgent support. Such was the situation in early April 2016, when the unprecedented escalation of violence by the Azerbaijani troops along the entire length of the line of contact lead to the Four Day War.
In response to this unprovoked aggression, the Tufenkian Foundation launched a crowdfunding campaign to help people affected by the escalation and to restore the war-torn houses and institutions. After starting the campaign, we discovered that many soldiers injured during the war had no homes or lived in houses or apartments that were in desperate need of renovations and repairs. Moreover, due to their injuries, most of these soldiers were unable to work to repair their homes or purchase new houses. This is why we initiated a project aiming at the renovation and reconstruction of houses of wounded soldiers of Artsakh.
Varujan Sahakyan is one of the soldiers we had the honor to support. A hero of the four-day war, Varujan served in the special forces and was badly wounded in the Martuni region.
Not long ago, Varujan, his wife and their three children lived in a house that needed major renovations. Varujan could not afford to renovate it before the war even though he had started doing some patch work here and there. After he was injured, health issues and financial hardship made it especially difficult for Varujan and his family to look after their house and continue the renovation.
In late 2016, the Tufenkian Foundation decided to help this brave man and his family to finish the renovation of their house. Work on his house started late last year and the house was completed in mid-April 2017. Together with our guests from the Armenian Diaspora, who were on a visit to Artsakh during April 3-6, we visited Varujan and his family to meet them and take a look at the newly renovated house.
In addition to the visitors from abroad and representatives of the Tufenkian Foundation, neighbors, local officials and Varujan’s fellow soldiers and officers were there to celebrate the housewarming with his beautiful family.
As we got inside the house, we were greeted with the traditional hospitality of Artsakh. Humble and friendly as always, Varujan, his wife and children showed us around the house and offered a taste of homemade Jengyalov Hac, the most popular local dish made of 25 different types of greens and herbs.
As planned, the house was repaired and renovated entirely. Improvements were made to all parts of the house in order to ensure a dignified living space for the family.
When asked about their favorite place in the newly renovated house, Varujan’s daughters showed us to a large room with bright crimson walls, which the two sisters had chosen to be their new bedroom.
Our guests took their time to talk to Varujan and his family and learn about their plans for the future. The eldest of the family, the grandmother of the three children, invited the guests to come back again in the summer and promised to personally take care of everyone who decides to move to Artsakh.
We left Varujan’s home with a feeling of a job well done and a conviction that the house would open a new page in the life of the family and become the roof under which Varujan’s three children grow up happy, healthy and safe.