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Experiencing the Land and Sacrifice of Karabakh

The group continued their work at the Yeghvard site this week. All of the female volunteers decided that they also wanted to do the bricklaying and cement work, besides clearing the church’s exterior. Each day, the volunteers are getting stronger and more inspired from their work. They feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in what they are doing. The group wrote their names on a piece of paper and sealed it in a bottle and placed it within the cement of the altar. Now, the volunteers feel that they are physically and spiritually a permanent part of the church.

On the weekend, they took their second excursion, this time to Karabakh/Artsakh. Their first stop was the city of Shushi. The group witnessed the Shushi Central Regional Hospital where the entire third floor had been renovated by the LCO of France (OTC-Organisation de Terre et Culture) with assistance from LCO-USA and LCO-Armenia (Yergir yev Mushagiut). It had taken eight years to complete this wing and support for this project will continue in the future.


At Karabagh Foreign Ministry Getting Visas

In Shushi, they visited the majestic Sourp Amenaprkich (Holy Savior) Ghazanchetsots Cathedral. It is only one of two surviving churches in the city. The other ten churches were destroyed during the many decades of persecution in this region. The cathedral has now been restored. It had suffered damage from bombings during the conflict. (group photo-Sam can you photo shop to add the cross of the church on the group picture. The volunteers then proceeded from the heights of Shushi down to Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh, to receive their visas. 

The group relaxed to a lunch at a nearby café. Stepanakert is a busy and beautiful little city, very clean and friendly. They enjoyed their time in the ""big" city" after their week in the village.

They headed back onto the highway between Shushi and Stepanakert to view a wartime tank. This tank is now a monument and symbol of the struggle and determination of the people of Artsakh.


Relaxing at a Stepanakert Cafe

The village of Karintak was their next stop. LCO had implemented a campaign in this village renovating the community center and schoolhouse. Kartintak and its people were instrumental in the capture of Shushi from the Azeri army. The village is located directly below a large plateau situated on a rock, thus the name Karintak "below the rock". The villagers assisted the Karabakh army in finding trails to the top, thus being able to surprise the enemy. Many villagers lost their lives in this endeavor. LCO felt it their duty to assist this village for their sacrifice.

The trip to Artsakh was a very moving experience for the volunteers. They felt a sense of pride that this region was recovered, and also that they participated in a part of history and nation building. The volunteers appreciated the value and sacrifice that the villagers play in the preservation of our land.

  • "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