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Campaign News 2015

Final Days in Shikahogh and Next Steps for LCO

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Shikahogh, Armenia - Our last week in Shikahogh village was action-packed, full of heavy duty work and festive farewell gatherings.

We completed a fun "demolition project," using sledge hammers to tear down a bathroom made of stones and cement that was haphazardly annexed onto the rear of Soorp Stepanos Church a few decades ago. We also finished stacking hundreds of clay tiles on top of the church roof, through many days of passing them in an assembly line and lifting them to the roof with a pully system. We are proud that we accomplished a great deal, in that the roof was tiled in just a few short weeks with our assistance!

Learning About and Appreciating the Village Lifestyle

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Shikahogh, Armenia - Living in Shikahogh village as LCO volunteers has been humbling, slow-paced, and amazingly eye-opening. Every day after working on the church, we enjoy a hearty lunch of green beans, salad, bread, cheese, and a different entrée, followed by a few hours of free time. During this time we hand wash our clothes, take an outdoor shower, play games, do arts and crafts, read, or just watch livestock wander in and out of our yard. But best of all is hanging out with our new friends in the village!


A Special Work Day at Soorp Stepanos Church

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Shikahogh, Armenia - Our work day began at 8:30am with a healthy breakfast of hard boiled eggs, bread, jam, butter, cheese, coffee and tea. Wearing our bright orange LCO volunteer t-shirts and hats, we walked for fifteen minutes uphill along a rocky, gravelly, sheep-trodden trail to Soorp Stepanos Church. There we met with the small team of men who have worked on the church since LCO initiated the project three years ago: the subcontractor Stepan, local villagers Armen and Grish, and a few others whose names we're still learning. After receiving our marching orders, we sprang into action removing the top layer of stones from the church alter, to be reinforced later. The heavier stones weigh up 20-50 pounds, but surprisingly, it was incredibly fun and rewarding work!


Arriving in the Forested Village of Shikahogh

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Shikahogh, Armenia - We're happy to report that we safely arrived in Shikahogh village yesterday, after eight hours driving in a bumpy bus from Yerevan! It was amazing to watch the landscape change dramatically as we drove, from attractive urban center, to rolling pastoral meadows, to high mountain steppes, to lush green forests.


Along the way, we were able to stop at Khor Virab. We learned that it was the place Saint Gregory was imprisoned in a snake-infested pit for 14 years, before he "illuminated" King Tiridates and ultimately was responsible for Armenia becoming the first Christian nation in 301 AD. Apart from appreciating stunning views of Mount Ararat, we got to descend into the pit itself. Never had we had this critical moment in Armenian history become more real and tangible for us!


  • "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