Renovated classroom

Berdzor (Artsakh) Classroom Renovations through Tekeyan


BERDZOR, Artsakh — The Tekeyan Cultural Association of the United States and Canada (TCA) has undertaken the renovation of the Tekeyan School in Berdzor, Artsakh, in parallel to the TCA Sponsor a Teacher Program, which supports this school and four others in Armenia. This renovation program shows that individuals really can make a difference for life in Artsakh and Armenia.

Math classroom after renovations
Math classroom before renovations

Berdzor is strategically located on the Kashatagh (Lachin) passageway that links Armenia to Artsakh. Its school was in poor condition due to the exigencies of the Artsakh War. The old classrooms that children had to use had mold and broken floors, walls often ready to collapse, and dilapidated windows and doors. During the past three years, TCA initiated renovations, and 15 classrooms have already been repaired. In 1994, the school only had 24 students, and now has over 200.

Classroom before renovation

The renovation of two more classrooms are being completed at present thanks to the donations of Ardemis Chapjian, whose adopted classroom will be named after Robert Khatchig Chapjian, and the Mikhjian family and friends, who raised money in honor of Zaghig Komedissian.

Funds have just been raised for the renovation of a third classroom through donations in lieu of flowers in honor of the recently deceased Alice Mavian. This classroom will bear a plaque in her name and that of her husband Zorek Peter Mavian (see the accompanying article).

Although the TCA Sponsor a Teacher program has been helping the school for a long time, the TCA school renovation program began only a few years ago in 2017, when TCA Central Board Canadian member Arto Manoukian wanted to renovate a classroom. The renovation, like all others, was supervised by TCA’s representative in Armenia Gayane Muradyan, and it only took some ten days.

Start of a renovation

The inauguration took place in October of that year, and Varoujan Sirapian, director of the Tchobanian Institute of Paris happened to be present. He was so impressed that he and his institute decided to sponsor the renovation of the second classroom, and then a third. This started something like a chain reaction, and many others began sponsoring classrooms and naming them after their loved ones or Armenian national heroes. These initial donors, all acting within the course of one year, include Avedis and Arshalouys Djihanian of Montreal, Hratch and Viviane Simonian of Egypt, and the Basmadjians of Toronto. The Montreal Tekeyan chapter, the Kavaldjians of Montreal, the Montreal chapter of the Rotary Club and many others followed, thus bringing the total number of renovated classrooms to 15. Soon, the Mavian classroom will be the 16th.

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The Berdzor municipality, seeing that Tekeyan’s initiative has led to new classroom facilities being hosted in an old school building, undertook the renovation of the school’s roof, which has been completed as of 2019. The newly renovated classrooms will no longer be subject to water leaks and potential damage.

Throughout this period, Manoukian has continued his interest in the school and is serving as coordinator in North America of the renovation fundraising efforts.

Sponsoring the renovation of a classroom is a wonderful way to both help the future of Artsakh by helping its children and honoring a loved one. It usually can be done for the sum of US $4,000.

Sanitary facilities are inexistent and badly needed. Modern plumbing and bathrooms can be created through a US $12,000 donation. All donations are tax deductible and are used 100 percent for the intended purpose without the deduction of any administrative costs.

Outhouse awaiting sponsor for renovations at the Berdzor Vahan Tekeyan School

Commemorative plaques are placed at each classroom acknowledging the donor and dedicating it to the person for whom the donation was done.

The process is transparent and the progress of the renovation work is followed on regular basis. A budget will be presented and will be followed. The donor will be updated on the renovation progress and funds will only be disbursed with the advancement of the project. The plaque text will also be validated with the donor.

The effect of such acts of philanthropy should not be underestimated on the young generation of Artsakh. Aside from the immediate impact on their lives, it helps revitalize the Berdzor region by giving a boost to the local economy and morale, improves the education of the local populace, and helps in the repopulation of this region which is so strategic for Armenia and Artsakh’s security.

This project, in other words, will make Berdzor a prosperous region for others to settle and raise children. This is how this strategic corridor will stay Armenian and never be subject to trade during peace talks.

For more information on helping Berdzor, email Arto Manoukian at or contact TCA headquarters (tel. 617 924-4455, address 755 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown, MA 02472).

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