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Beginning in 2003, LCO began working on the renovation of the village schoolhouse.

The village of Shatvan is one of the 34 villages in the Vartenis area that were predominantly settled by Azeris during the Soviet years. Shatvan is located on the borders with Azerbaijan and is very close to the road that leads to Karvajar, Artsakh. However, the demography of this village as well as the entire region changed during the late 80s during Azeri-Armenian clashes.

Starting in December 4, 1988, the village of Shatvan was repopulated by refugees who had arrived from 33 different parts of Azerbaijan (Shankhor, Khanlar, Baku, etc.). The birthrate was increasing in this village of the 253 families of 645 refugees. Over 50 were children under the age of 6 and about 120 school age youth.

It was only recently that the village has become a community. Migration from the village has been reduced. Most of the families are now owners of their land and home. The village is abundant with fertile land. It is being slowly cultivated for producing potato and wheat fields. Some members of the community are also employed by the gold mine in the neighboring village of Sotk.

The mayor’s main concern is to provide the basics to young families to prevent them from leaving. In his and the community’s mind, the school is the number one priority. The schoolhouse is the only educational institution in the village.  The building had not seen any renovations since 1988. The disintegration process is fast because of extreme weather conditions and lack of resources in this impoverished region of Armenia.

The building was a hazard until 2004 when LCO worked with the National Seismic Institute to reinforce its foundation at five different points and entirely replaced the damaged roof.  Part of the project also consisted of narrowing the wide openings of the windows on this two-story building. The village is located at 2100m of altitude and the gushing cold wind penetrates through the widow seals. LCO replaced the structure with double pane windows. This situation has been repaired and as a result, the classrooms are much warmer and more appropriate for a learning environment.
  • "There are experiences you shape and then there are experiences that shape you. The LCO Campaign of 2007 in the village of Azat offered me invaluable perceptions into the realities of my fellow Armenian brothers and sisters in a way only a true immersion program can. I urge everyone and anyone who might feel an inkling of belonging to this fascinating country, people, and history to sign up with the campaign immediately. I smile just thinking about what you have yet to experience."
    Noushig K, Azat 2007, CA, USA

  • "Coming back from a 4-day trip to Kharabagh really felt like coming back home, with our family waiting to greet us outside our house. That's when I realised just how attached we'd grown to the place, to our family, to the other volunteers"
    Anoosh Gasparian, Azat 2009, London UK

  • "I went to this trip with no expectations, and came back with a great appreciation for our country.  Life in the village is surreal, the food is beyond delicious and the people are incredibly nice. It was a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget!"  Sam Tahmasian, 2009, CA, USA
  • "LCO is an amazing concept. It introduced the deprived Diasporan to their land and their people. It is a wonderful introduction to Armenia and something every young man or woman should experience."
    Madlene Minassian Ispirian, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, Yerevan, Armenia

  • "My most memprable experience was being so warmly taken care by an old village couple, receiving gifts from them, giving them gifts and establishing bonds."
    Naira Der-Kiureghian, Ayroum 2003, CA, USA

  • "...I know that when I reflect back on this experience I will feel ecstatic about the work we accomplished, the things we saw, and the bonds we forged."
    Hovig Saghdejian, Ayroum 2003, California, USA

  • "Dolma is made with mum's careful instructions, grandmothers eyes found on the faces of children, songs of Ararat are as familiar as the Khachkars dotting the landscape. If it smells like home, looks like home then it must be home."
    Datevig Simonian, Shadvan 2004, California, USA

  • "LCO experience was a revelation for me. It gave me the opportunity to expand my horizons both personally and professionally. One of the most important experiences of my life and an important factor in determining my future goals."
    Lara Aharonian, August 1999, August 2001, Montreal, Canada.

  • "I formed strong bonds with my volunteers, and the difference in backgrounds was refreshing. It was interesting to hear the points of view of different Armenians from other areas of the Diaspora."
    Aramazt Kalaydjian, Shoushi 2003, NY, USA

  • "I loved the simplicity of life in the village, the fresh homemade food is wonderful; that people are the friendliest and most hospitable... the children have the most beautiful faces..."
    Sophia Balakian, Shadvan 2004, New York, USA