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.
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.
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.
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.