NEW YORK — In an effort to jumpstart socio-economic development in the legendary town of Shushi, Armenia Fund USA and its worldwide affiliates will launch a comprehensive program of infrastructure and business development projects beginning in 2010.
The Armenia Fund “Save Shushi” campaign will officially kick off on its annual Thanksgiving Day Telethon, in addition to pre-Telethon fundraising drives, such as direct mail and phone campaigns, conducted by Armenia Fund USA and other affiliates in the All-Armenia Fund global network.
“In the 1990s, the Armenians won the pivotal battle for liberation in the hills and fields of Shushi. Today, they are fighting a very different battle: a war on poverty,” explained Armenia Fund USA Chairman Raffi Festekjian.
“Too many residents, jobless and living in unsafe ruins, have been forced to leave these hard-won lands for which they or their compatriots sacrificed so much,” Festekjian added. “Somehow, the inspiration from military victory has been slowly overtaken by economic paralysis and social apathy. And time is running out to win back the hearts and minds of those residents remaining.”
The Armenia-Azeri war left Shushi almost completely destroyed. The town center is a gloomy picture of half-destroyed houses built in the 18th and 19th centuries. With so many abandoned shelters, many of the jobless residents live as squatters, with no heat or electricity. Provincial schools are also physically unsafe and unhygienic, leaving families little incentive to remain in Shushi without hope for a better future.