Kashatagh (formerly Lachin) is the vital landbridge connecting Karabagh to Armenia. It thus guarantees Karabagh’s existence, while bolstering the security of Armenia as well. NKR President BakoSahakian recently declared: “Karabagh exists as long as Kashatagh exists.”
After 70 years of Azerbaijani rule, this historic Armenian province was liberated during the Karabagh war and is now being actively resettled. If Kashatagh becomes well-settled and developed, Armenia and Karabagh will gain immeasurably.
But while Kashatagh needs new life, the region has suffered from a housing crisis. Many houses were badly damaged during the war. Unfortunately, many resettlers continue to live in these bombed-out ruins – entire families in 1 or 2 rooms – coping amidst makeshift roofs, earthen floors, and leaky walls and ceilings.
These living conditions are deplorable, and have taken a toll on the population. Many children in the region resent their conditions and blame their parents for choosing to live there. Newly married couples stay away, not wanting to start families in open rubble. The result is that Karabagh’s most vital district remains unstable demographically: of the 25,000 resettlers who have come and gone since the war, less than half remain. The number-one reason they cite is the lack of decent housing.
To address this problem, the Foundation began a pilot project in 2008 to renovate existing houses, turning them from ruins into houses worthy of dignified living. This means furnishing war-ravaged homes with:
From 2008-2010, more than 40 renovation works were performed by dedicated work brigades, under TF’s supervision. Residents of each home also participated, keeping costs down and engendering a sense of ownership over the project.
As news of these developments began to spread, Kashatagh’s authorities quickly embraced house renovation as an ongoing, government-funded activity. In doing so, they have used our activity model as a base, gradually developing and adapting it. Their goal is to cover ultimately all 1300 houses needing renovation in the region.
These early efforts were co-funded by several diasporan groups, including the Armenian community of Sydney, Australia, the California-based Friends of Armenia, as well as many individual donors.
Since 2010, TF has continued with house renovation, but mainly according to special needs: We continue to renovate houses in Kashatagh for Syrian-Armenian refugees who resettle there, and also work in other regions of Artsakh, providing housing for soldiers wounded during the recent Four-Day War.
Most recently, in the beginning of June 2017, we completed the construction of a house for the family of Haig Khatcho, a Syrian-Armenian doctor who escaped ISIS persecution and resettled in Artsakh a couple of years ago. After relocating to the Ishkhanadzor village of Kashatagh together with his three daughters, Dr. Khatcho has started working at the only clinic of the village, which was established by the Tufenkian Foundation during 2004-2005.
Haig Khatcho (second on the right) with family and guests in front of his new house
Please help us as we continue to bring decent living standards to Karabagh’s most strategic region. To join this effort and to learn more, please contact RaffiDoudaklian at email@example.com.