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Beginning in 1991, LCO embarked upon two projects in the village of Madrasa.

During the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict, hundreds of thousands of Armenians were displaced from their homes in Azerbaijan and came to Armenia for safety. Already plagued with those left homeless after the earthquake, the Armenian government had been struggling to also provide housing for the refugees.

One of the casualties of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict was a village outside Baku, Azerbaijan called Madrasa. The entire population of 600 Armenian families was removed in November of 1988 and dispersed throughout the Soviet Union. The head of this village, in typical Armenian fashion, was determined not to let this event end an existence and way of life that he had known since birth. He located 130 of the original families, who had been housed in temporary accommodations throughout Armenia, and together decided to recreate their village life-- but on Armenian soil.  In November of 1990, the Refugee Committee allocated a large parcel of land on which their new village was to be created. This area was initially named New Madrasa but was renamed Dprevan, the Armenian translation of Madrasa, which means school in Arabic, Madrasa is located in the Ashdarag Region of Armenia, approximately 30 miles north of Yerevan.

The area has been divided into approximately 200 family plots.   In 1991, in two years time, with the help of LCO, approximately 45 homes were built.  Volunteers worked side by side with these families as they rebuilt their homes and tilled their soil.  Also, here, shoveling dirt, carrying stone blocks, mixing cement, were the typical chores our volunteers.

The blockade had made the work very difficult at times, but Madrasa took on some semblance of a real village. Villagers planted trees and gardens.  As a means to provide self-sufficiency for the villagers, the LCO initiated a fruit tree planting program and construction of a solar fruit dryer.  When the dryer was completed in 1995, not only was it used by the residents of Madrasa but by surrounding villages as well.  In 1996, the fruit was boxed and marketed for sale.

On Easter weekend a few years after completion of the fruit dryer project, eight LCO volunteers from different walks of life headed back out to Madrasa, now Dprevan. The people of the village had aged; some had left.


But overall, the spirit of the LCO still remained. This time, the Land and Culture Organization was asked by the villagers to help build a water reservoir with a pump and a shelter to secure the village with a steady access to drinking water. The plan was for the LCO volunteers and some local volunteers to build a cement pool in two days time. However, as is the case in Armenia, the work started slow but somehow, with determined energy, the work was completed at the end of the two-day campaign.


The volunteers also visited the solar fruit dryers built by fellow LCO volunteers in 1995. Today this fruit dryer is the only source of revenue generating plant in the village.


This was the first time LCO had organized a springtime campaign. The volunteers were a mix of veterans and new members. They all enjoyed the change of pace and the opportunity to return to the basics. The village and the work was a rewarding, especially since it was held of Good Friday and Good Saturday. The villagers also welcomed the presence of the young and dynamic volunteers.

  • "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