On February 6 and 7, the Union International de Organisations Terre et Culture (UIOTC)/ Land and Culture Organization (LCO) chapters from the France, United States, Armenia, United Kingdom, and Belgium met this year in Brussels, Belgium for their annual meeting, held in the offices of the European-Armenian Federation. Among the many organizational agenda items, the committee discussed the successful completion of its 2009 projects and plans for the upcoming 2010 campaign. Also during the weekend, 200 people attended a cultural event hosted by the LCO-Belgium chapter in the Haydoon in Brussels, where a presentation of LCO projects throughout the years was made.
This summer of 2010, LCO volunteers will be restoring the Church in the village of Yeghvard, in the Syunik region, on the Azeri-Armenian border. The project began in 2007 and will continue until its completion in 2010 or 2011. Yeghvard has been subject to several invasions, which has resulted in destruction of the village on a number of occasions. Despite the state of the Church, LCO initiated and organized a number of baptisms with the assistance of priests from Kapan. The remains of Prince Thoros, who was a lieutenant and friend in arms of David Beg, are found in the cemetery adjoining the Church.
During the 2009 campaign, over 30 volunteers from Armenia, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States spent their summer in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh on community development projects. After several years, LCO volunteers helped in the completion the entire third floor of the Shushi Central Regional Hospital in Artsakh. The hospital serves the medical needs of the inhabitants of the Shushi region and since the cease-fire was in a state of disrepair. LCO helped to renovate patient, delivery, and surgery rooms to meet the growing medical needs of the population. In the summer of 2009, the Shushi Hospital celebrated its opening, and the first surgeries were performed by guest physicians from Armenia and France, in the renovated rooms.
Additionally, for the past several years, LCO volunteers worked in two villages in the Vardenis region of Armenia, Azad and Shatvan. Located southeast of Lake Sevan near the road that leads to Kelbajar, the villages are mainly populated by Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan. LCO-USA repaired the schoolhouses in the villages. "Before, Armenia felt quite distant to me. But living with "native" Armenians, I found a home, I found my people in a village called Azad", said 2009 volunteer Anoosh Gasparian from London. During its campaign in the village, the ruins of a 17th century church were discovered in Azad. LCO will start the restoration process of the church in 2011.
The Armenia Chapter of LCO has conducted the "Faith and Heritage" program for the last eight years. Its mission is to stimulate and encourage the youth of Armenia to safeguard and preserve, along with their Diaspora brethern, the heritage left in their care.
For over 30 years, LCO has been one of the earliest volunteer groups in Armenia and Karabakh working to restore, renovate, and rejuvenate the historical monuments and sites of our nation. It has performed this mission through its summer campaigns, by volunteers of every age from the Diaspora and Armenia.
To help our mission or join in our summer volunteer program, you may reach us at