‘Kef Time Keghi III’ Benefits Kindergarten in Nor Keghi

DETROIT, Mich.—A new project to benefit the school children of Nor Keghi in Armenia began just days after four years of spirited community work to fund classroom renovations was achieved this past December by the Nor Keghi Association—an organization of Detroit Armenians who trace their roots to old Keghi province in Turkish occupied Western Armenia.

The 28 Armenian musicians who volunteered their time to play all evening (Photo: Nor Keghi Association)

The project’s successful funding goal was topped at Kef Time Keghi III, as more than 300 Armenians dined on the legendary staple Pagharch grain meal, on which Keghetzis in the ancestral homeland survived, during the freezing winter months that swept through the mountainous Keghi region.

“We topped our fundraising goal because the Keghetzi community and friends from all four Metro Detroit Armenian Churches, as well as compatriots from throughout the United States joined our effort,” elated Richard Norsigian, President of the Nor Keghi Association, said. “The Association’s Board remained dedicated to achieve success—and we did!”

The attending clergy from the four churches opened the evening program with a prayer of blessing for the project’s success.

The initial project was to renovate the Multipurpose Room at the Arakelyan Kindergarten in Nor Keghi, Armenia, for use by the students as well as by the parents and community for various activities. The renovation also includes the immediate order of new auditorium type chairs, audiovisual equipment, and a piano.  The renovated Multipurpose Room will serve the needs of the current 30 students and the 30 additional kindergarten age children now waiting for enrollment.

Norsigian visited Nor Keghi last fall to confer with local and state officials on the needs for the school improvements. He said other improvements in the project also include hallways, doors, and stairwell repairs.

In addition, the Nor Keghi Association’s funded project will be monitored until its completion by the highly respected Paros Foundation, which is headquartered in Berkeley, Calif., and maintains field offices in Armenia.

Norsigian also praised local and state officials in Armenia for welcoming the support of the project by “Armenians with a DNA link to historic Keghi and now embracing Nor Keghi.” The naming of Nor Keghi formally known as Pazmavan was proclaimed on Feb. 12, 1962.

The traditional Keghetzi Pagarch makes its entrance (Photo: Nor Keghi Association)

As Kef Time Keghi III was winding down after an evening of singing and dancing, the 28 Detroit Armenian musicians who had donated their services and had been taking turns to provide music throughout the night at St. John Armenian Church Cultural Hall all took to the stage together to put on a musical show that rocked the hall. Throngs of young celebrants cheered while taking pictures with their phones.

In saluting the musicians who dedicated their participation, Norsigian said: “The closing with all the musicians on stage and the cheering crowd easily topped any Super Bowl half time show. Abreek Detroit musicians. We thank you. The children of Nor Keghi thank you.”

A review meeting to determine the Nor Keghi Association’s future role in Armenia will be held at a later date by its board.

Whatever that course of direction, the words of the legendary William Saroyan rang loud and clear at Kef Time Keghi III. In a salute to Armenians for their survival after the Armenian Genocide, Saroyan etched an everlasting tribute, in which he said: Go ahead, destroy this race… See if they will not live again. See if they will not laugh again.”

They did at Kef Time Keghi III.

Mitch Kehetian

Mitch Kehetian

Born and raised in Detroit, Mitch Kehetian launched his newspaper career as a reporter in 1953 with the Detroit Times. He was also editor of Wayne-Westland Daily Eagle and the Macomb Daily. He has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Wayne State University's Journalism Department. Mitch retired in 2005 and has served as president of Detroit Moorad-Zavarian AYF and Antranig ARF Gomideh.

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