Gurgen Melikyan, third from right, in the patio of Lisakor School of Karabakh

Sponsor A Teacher Program Reinforces Its Commitment to Karabakh Teachers


WATERTOWN — The Tekeyan Cultural Association Sponsor A Teacher Program, which has been helping teachers for the last 20 years in four schools in Armenia and one school in Karabakh, resumed its help to Karabakh teachers one year after the bloody 44-day war initiated by Azerbaijan and Turkey.

During the war, the unthinkable happened. The Tekeyan School of Berdzor, Karabakh, now lies in ruins. It is situated in the narrow corridor of Kashatagh or Lachin province. During the war it was used as a barracks for Armenian soldiers. At the end of the war, the Armenian population was evacuated and Russian peacekeeping forces controlled this area, except for around 100 remaining Armenians. They are permitted to stay in order to serve the Russian troops in various capacities, such as running shops or doing other supportive work.

The principal and teachers of the school are now either in Yerevan or various villages with relatives. The Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) of the United States and Canada is assisting and helping them find alternative income work, led by Arto Manoukian of Montreal, who initiated and implemented the “Sustainable Assistance” program for Berdzor refugees in Armenia by making investments in agriculture and beekeeping through Syunik Development NGO.

Teachers of Medz Shen school during receiving the envelopes

Sponsor a Teacher Program, led by Maro Bedrosian of Houston, Texas, raised enough funds between January and September of  2021 to help not only all four Vahan Tekeyan Schools in Armenia but also to 90 teachers of 5 newly located village schools in what left of Karabakh, namely the villages of Yeghtsahogh, Aghavno and Shushi District schools of Medz Shen, Hin Shen and Lisakor, through a non-profit organization called the Gurgen Melikyan Multichildren Family Foundation of Kashatagh. The 2021 fund raising was successful thanks to major donors of  the Mesrob Fund, in lieu of flowers donations in memory of Nora Azadian, the TCA Detroit chapter and many other donors from the US and Canada. A total of $38,610 dollars was distributed in the past two weeks.

Between October 2 and 18, the funds were distributed and/or  transferred to the teachers accounts by TCA Central Board chairman Edmond Azadian and member of the Central Board Mihran Minassian , who were visiting Armenia on assignment, TCA Armenia Representative Gayane Mouradyan and Gurgen Melikyan, who travelled to the five villages in Karabakh and handed personally to 90 teachers and workers enough funds to sustain them over the months of October, November and December of this year.

Boghos Aghabegyan, principal of Yeghtsahogh school said, “This kind of philanthropy by our brothers and sisters of the United States encourages us not to leave our village and open the road for Azerbaijan to conquer what left of  Karabakh.”

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Adrine Tavityan, an English teacher at Medz Shen village school, said, “We are thankful to the members and supporters of  the Tekeyan Cultural Association, who supported us financially, and, most importantly, morally. Philanthropic acts serve as examples to people and show the path leading to kindness.”

Mihran Minassian, sixth from left, with Gyumri Tekeyan School principal and teachers

“Every year everybody with great excitement awaits this beneficence, and has great expectations concerning this sum. Though the amount is not that great, teachers today need it. It is also a motivating and inspiring factor, which gives the teacher the desire to work, do and create,” he continued.

After visiting the Gyumri Vahan Tekeyan School, Mihran Minassian, member of the Central Board of TCA of the US and Canada, stressed to the principal and teachers of the school that it was not the amount of the money that was important. He said, “I understand that in today’s economic environment, the sum donated is not all that large. However, all this could have been done in an impersonal fashion by just directly sending checks. What is important is the contact, the immediacy, while presenting the sums. We believe in the future of Armenia. Today there are more Armenians outside than inside Armenia. And if with this many Armenians we are not able to make this little Armenia survive, then shame on us.”

Gurgen Melikyan with principal and teachers of Yeghtsahogh school entrance

Armenian language and literature teacher Narine Hayrapetyan of the Tekeyan School of Karpi, Armenia, said that they feel more secure because the TCA exists. She said, “We wait for you every year, and, thank God, we all are aware that this is not only for the money, but to meet with you and to have you by our side. There are two major goals: one, that we feel more secure through you, and second, irrespective of age, it is extremely pleasant when a person’s work is appreciated. We await you gladly. May God grant that we too will be able to aid you in something.”

TCA Sponsor A Teacher in Armenia and Karabakh program enters its 21st year of existence, thanks to its coordinator Maro Bedrosian and Armenia Representative  Gayane Mouradyan.

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