YEREVAN — The Knights and Daughters of Vartan continued their “Back to the Homeland” Mission Trip for the sixth year. More than 20 Knights, Daughters, and friends joined the pilgrimage on September 18-24 to visit the homeland, their mission partners and projects in Armenia.
The Knights of Vartan fraternal organization has always paid special attention to the education of Armenians around the world. Numerous scholarships have been given to students in Armenian schools in the USA and Middle East as well as schools in Armenia. In addition, many of the schools in Armenia needed renovation and the Knights of Vartan began projects to make sure the environment in which the students received their education was brought up to date. The Back to the Homeland Mission Trip VI included visits to the schools that were renovated during this past fiscal year.
The first project visited by the group was at the Colonel Vladimir Karapetyan School #3 in Sevan. The Colonel, a graduate of the school, is a hero of the war in Artsakh who died on June 17, 1992 in the village of Madaghis in the Martakert Region while protecting 12,000 Armenians who were forcibly displaced from the Shahumyan Region. The school building is more than 68 years old and has had very few repairs since its construction. This past year, Avak Sbarabed (Grand Commander) Hunan Arshakian renovated a classroom as the start of an ongoing project. This provided a good reason for everyone to visit the school, meet the faculty and discuss possible future projects.
On September 22 the group visited the Aparan Sports School where Knights of Vartan projects are continuing for a second year. This year, with the sponsorship of the Armenian Artists Project, a Knights of Vartan partner, the wrestling room was renovated and a shower was built. The school has 150 students who attend from the town of Aparan and nearby villages. In particular, the Knights of Vartan members were excited to meet Mariam, a12-year-old weightlifter. The group was confident that one day she will be responsible for the Armenian flag being raised at world competitions.
The Knights of Vartan, in cooperation with the Armenian Territorial Development Fund (ATDF) supported the complete renovation of one of the kindergartens in Aparan in 2017. Since then the kindergarten has been renamed “Knights of Vartan”. In 2018, Gomidas Lodge donated more items for the school’s operation. This year, a new gift was presented to this 110 pupil kindergarten, namely a five-piece new playground where the children can climb, swing and jump. This new project was implemented in cooperation with the Armenian Artists Project (sponsor of the project) and Focus on Children Now (local implementer and contributor).
The fourth school visited on September 23rd and supported by the organization was the Knights of Vartan Basic School #106 in Yerevan. Nareg-Shavarshan Lodge of Greater Detroit continues to make improvements at this School. During the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the Lodge provided funding to renovate the second floor of its lower school building, specifically, 7 classrooms, the hallway, restrooms and stairway. Since 2018 the Lodge has raised over $95,000 for various renovation projects at the school. The #106 Basic School is the educational home to over 1,000 students. The students, after graduation, enter universities in Armenia and overseas or continue their education at vocational schools. Most importantly, they become good citizens of Republic of Armenia.