HERHER VILLAGE, Martuni, Artsakh—Two more families in Artsakh’s Martuni region were given the keys to their rebuilt homes last week, as part of the Tufenkian Foundation’s Martuni Village Home Renovation and Repair Project. The homes of the Hayrapetyans of Machkalashen village and the Sargsyans of Herher village sustained major damage by Azerbaijani shelling during last year’s war.
Zina Hayrapetyan, who serves as the head nurse in Machkalashen, lost her husband during the Artsakh Liberation War in the early 1990s. The Hayrapetyan home was hit twice during last year’s war while her son was serving in Hadrut. “Our family home was completely destroyed; it was in utter ruins. It was difficult to imagine that it could ever be rebuilt in such a short amount of time,” she explained during during an intimate ceremony on June 25 to mark the completion of construction of the house, which is home to five members of her family.
“Following the war, our board of trustees decided that the Foundation should only focus on the most immediate, pressing needs in Artsakh: the renovation and reconstruction of damaged homes, addressing the housing issues of our wounded soldiers and the families of our fallen,” explained Tufenkian Foundation trustee, Dr. Antranig Kasbarian. “We are looking forward to moving onto implementing development projects once these fundamental needs are addressed,” he added.
After consultations with Artsakh authorities, the Tufenkian Foundation decided that it would carry out its work in the Herher cluster in the Martuni region of Artsakh, focusing on Herher and its surrounding villages, including Tsovategh, Kherkhan and Machkalashen. The Hayrapetyan and Sargsyan homes are the third and fourth of a total of 13 homes in the region that the Foundation will renovate and restore. The Tufenkian Foundation also provided food assistance packages to 10 vulnerable families in the village of Machkalashen thanks to a gift from an anonymous donor. “We are addressing basic needs right now, but we are doing so to try to ensure that as many Artsakhtsis return and have stable living conditions so they remain a presence on their lands,” Kasbarian added.
The Sargsyans of Herher village were the second family to receive the keys to their renovated home on June 25. Karlest Sargsyan says his family lost everything in the war. “That’s what happens in war. But we thank God we survived,” explained Sargsyan, who lives with his wife, daughter, son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.
“These are difficult times for our people, for the people of Artsakh, but I am certain that we will rise from the ashes once again, thanks to the support of organizations like the Tufenkian Foundation. We are indebted to the hard work and determination of the Foundation’s board, staff and supporters, and I’d like to thank everyone involved—from the directors to each construction worker—for their commitment to the people of Artsakh,” said Sargsyan before his house was blessed by Father Mkhitar Haroyan of the St. Vardanants Armenian Apostolic Church of Chartar.
During the ceremony, the Sargsyan family also received a surprise gift from a dedicated Tufenkian Foundation volunteer, 21-year-old Razmig Makasdjian of San Francisco, Calif. After consulting the Foundation’s Artsakh staff, Makasdjian, who has been volunteering throughout Artsakh and Armenia since last December, decided to outfit the Sargsyan’s rebuilt home with a brand-new refrigerator. “This is the least I could do for a family that has suffered so much. I am happy I could do my small part and call on others to help in any way they can. I am hopeful about the future of Artsakh,” Makasdjian said.
The Martuni Village Home Renovation and Repair Project is part of a larger program initiated and implemented by the Tufenkian Foundation to address the most pressing needs in the region. As part of its Herher village cluster restoration and redevelopment program, the Tufenkian Foundation also announced that it will be launching the Martuni Village Healthcare Improvement Initiative. The initiative will restore the village Buzhkets (community medical clinics) and provide training to local healthcare workers to ensure that residents receive quality care.