Project expected to revitalize historic community

For Immediate Release ~ April 27, 2011

Yerevan, Armenia – Armenia Fund is building a community center in Mets Shen, a village in Artsakh’s Shushi Region. The project is co-financed by the Lebanese-Armenian community and donors in Armenia and Artsakh.

Currently crews are constructing the columns of the second floor. When completed, the two-story, 195-meter-square community center will house the mayor’s office, a medical clinic, a library, and an events hall. The structure will also include a room for handicrafts and vocational training.

“The Armenia Fund has built such multifaceted structures in several other communities,” says Ara Vardanyan, executive director of the fund. “Community centers are of vital importance to the ongoing social and economic development of rural areas in Armenia and Artsakh. They help streamline public services, foster a more dynamic civic life, and, ultimately, provide residents with one more compelling reason to continue living and working in their hometowns.”

The construction of the Mets Shen community center addresses a number of longstanding issues, for instance relieving key public institutions from having to operate in unsuitable quarters. Currently the mayor’s office is housed in Mets Shen’s dilapidated telephone station, the clinic in the tumbledown hospital, and the library in a room of the community school. Mets Shen has never had a public events hall.

“Few young people remain in the village while the problems we face as a community persist,” says Mikayel Ossipyan, mayor of Mets Shen. “Certainly the community center will revitalize the village and I’m hopeful that our youth will stay put. We’re also working hard to address the potable-water issue, all in a concerted effort to prevent our village from being depopulated.”

One of the Shushi Region’s oldest settlements, Mets Shen has a population of 119, most of whom are seniors. The main occupations are bee-keeping, agriculture, and cattle-breeding. The village is renowned for the 17th-century Saint Panteleon Monastery, named in honor of a local physician for his life-saving work.