In late August and early September, a group of Tufenkian Foundation supporters visited Artsakh, where they spent five days. The trip was organized by the Tufenkian Foundation and the purpose was to better understand the needs of the recently established and resurrected Armenian villages in the liberated territories.
Our first stop was Hak village in northern Kashatagh. This centuries old village was depopulated from its Armenian inhabitants in the early 20th Century, when irregular Turkish militias attacked the villages in the area and massacred more than 600 Armenians. In late 1918, after the establishment of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the region was ethnically cleansed; Armenians were either massacred or driven away from their ancestral homeland. In 1993, the NKR army liberated the Kashatagh district and Armenians started settling in the destroyed villages.
Baptism ceremony in Hak village
The Tufenkian Foundation has been very active in this area. In Hak only, TF brought drinking water to the village, renovated 2 houses for new settlers, and with the support of long time TF friend Virginia Davies, restored the destroyed St. Minas Church, which was first built in the early 17th Century.
Today, more than 110 people live in Hak. The number of children reaching school age is more than 35, while 12 other children attend the elementary school of the village, and another few go to the secondary school of a nearby village. There is no doubt that the Hak is increasingly growing. The families are young and school-aged children consist of 40 percent of Hak’s inhabitants. Our group, which included Virginia Davies and her daughter Alex Kennedy, Gary Hampar, Lysa Grigoryan, James Tufenkian, Fred Hayrapet, Antranig Kasbarian and TF staff, participated in the christening ceremony of 39 children from Hak and other surrounding villages in St. Minas Church. With the number of children soaring, Hak is in great need of a renovated and refurbished school, among other things.
TF Board members, supporters and staff in Kashatagh, Artsakh
While we were busy with the villagers, one of our group members visited the family of Anton and Aregnaz Abgaryan, their 3 children, and Aregnaz’s mother, Varsik. In April, Anton volunteered on the front lines after the unprovoked Azerbaijani attack. He spent 19 days in a trench, while Aregnaz (who is pregnant) and Varsik ran the small farm and cared for the children. Soon, Anton and Aregnaz will have their 4th child; another child who will be ready to go to school a few years from now. Anton and his friends will always be ready to volunteer for the defense of their historic land. Aregnaz, her mother and their compatriots will always endure the hardship, sacrificing for the benefit of the family while their kids attend school for the hope of a better future on this rugged land. Hak school needs to be rebuilt, because no child should be deprived of education, regardless of the economic and political situation in the country. Rebuilding the Hak school means building for the next generation and shaping the future of this ancestral home. Anton, his wife, her mother and their children are committed to this land. And we, as the Tufenkian Foundation, are committed to building a better future for the generations to come. By bringing drinking water, by restoring a church, by renovating houses and by building a school. One at a time.
The villagers of Hak
By Raffi Doudaklian