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Kessab (1986-present)

The Land and Culture Organization has held campaigns in the Kessab region since 1986. One of the few remnant picturesque Armenian villages left of Cilician Armenia, located just outside the present day boundaries of Turkey. Kessab borders the Mediterranean Sea and is one valley away from the famous Musa Dagh.  The city of Kessab swells in the summer season.

According to Syrian law, the government could repossess uncultivated land.  Armenian lands were in jeopardy and LCO began to cultivate the area for safekeeping.  In addition, Armenians continued to inhabitant ancient Armenian land.  LCO perceived the Armenian identity in Kessab being vulnerable and sought to preserve whatever Armenian structures it could.

LCO has worked primarily in the city of Kessab and its surrounding village of Kaladouran.  The objective is on maintaining the Armenian architectural integrity. The following projects were the focus of our campaigns.

  • Between 1986- 2006: LCO restoration of the traditional Armenian dwellings called the Ashkarian House and the Bedrossian House in Kessab, and the Baboudjian House in Kaladouran.
  • Between 1991-1992: LCO undertook the construction of an ethnographical museum in Kessab supported in part by the Gulbenkian Foundation.
  • Between 1986-1990: LCO completed an agricultural program in Kaladouran including the planting of fruit trees, vegetables, and irrigation system.
  • Between 1985-1988: LCO restored the Sourp Stepanos Church in the Kaladouran to serve the community.
Now these Armenian lands and structures have been restored and preserved demonstrating historical testimony to our Armenian legacy.  Through the restoration of these historical Armenian areas, awareness and interest has increased in the diaspora.   LCO continues to bring groups to visit the area and maintain these projects.
  • "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