Yerevan, May 20, 2014 – On May 19, within the framework of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund Board of Trustees annual meeting in Yerevan, a delegation led by Executive Director Ara Vardanyan and comprising trustees, representatives of affiliates worldwide, benefactors, and associates began a string of project-site visits and opening ceremonies of newly completed projects in Artsakh and Armenia.

The delegation traveled to Artsakh via the Vardenis-Martakert road, which has been designated by the Board of Trustees to be transformed into a major highway linking Armenia and Artsakh — the fund’s top project for 2014.

On May 20, the delegation unveiled the newly built community center of Nor Maragha, a village in Artsakh’s Martakert Region. Dignitaries and guests attending the opening ceremony included Ashot Ghulyan, chairperson of the Nagorno Karabakh National Assembly; Vladik Khachatryan, head of the Martakert Regional Administration; and local-community representatives.

The construction of the Nor Maragha community center was made possible by the financial support of the fund’s Toronto affiliate, with additional support from the government of Artsakh. It is the second project of its kind to be sponsored by the Toronto affiliate; the fist was built in the Hadrut Region’s Drakhtik Village and has been in operation since 2013.

The Nor Maragha community center is a 410-square-meter, two-story, multifunctional structure, designed to provide a wealth of services and leisure activities for the more than 500 residents of the village. The facility, which also includes a basement, will house the mayor’s office, a combination health clinic and maternity ward, an events hall, a library, a computer room, a playroom, and a video-screening room. In view of the profound importance of such facilities to rural life, the Armenian community of Toronto has termed them Life Centers — social and administrative hubs where villagers are be able to conduct civic business, receive healthcare, share their joys and sorrows, and engage in quality leisure.

“This Life center is our gift to the valiant people of Nor Maragha,” said Migirdic Migirdicyan, chairperson of the fund’s Toronto affiliate, in his remarks during the opening ceremony. “We’re grateful to all those who, despite the difficulties, continue to live in this beautiful corner of Artsakh and make it prosper. My wish is that illnesses will be rare in this community and its new health clinic will serve mainly expectant mothers.” Migirdicyan went on to convey the congratulations of Baroness Caroline Cox, who has had an instrumental role in securing international recognition of the Maragha massacres of 1992.

On his part, Nor Maragha mayor Roma Karapetyan bestowed the title of Honorary Citizen on Migirdicyan, in appreciation of the support of Toronto Armenians.

“This community is the old Maragha reborn,” said Ara Vardanyan in his keynote address. “Together we will make it thrive. I thank our compatriots in Toronto and the builders for making this wonderful community center a reality.”

Following the welcome speeches, Very Reverend Father Partev Barseghyan, vice chancellor of the Mother See of Etchmiadzin, and Father Barsegh of Martakert’s Saint Karapet Church blessed the newly built structure.

Afterwards Mr. and Mrs. Nalbandian of Toronto, who were in attendance at the opening ceremony, donated glucometers for use at the health clinic inside the community center.

Nor Maragha was founded in 1992 by the former residents of Maragha, which was burned down by the Azeris during the Artsakh War. Following the utter destruction of the village, survivors of the carnage established a new community nearby and named it Nor (New) Maragha.

The Hayastan All-Armenian Fund delegation next visited the newly built community center of Khantsk, a village in the Askeran Region. The construction of the facility was co-sponsored by the fund’s Montreal affiliate and the government of Artsakh. The two-story facility will house the mayor’s office, a library, a computer room, and a playroom, as well as an adjacent events hall with a seating capacity of 150.

“Our residents are a lively bunch, and I’m certain they’ll make excellent use of their new community center,” said Zorik Harutyunyan, mayor of Khantsk. He went on to say that this spring, for the first time in Artsakh, his community held a Bread Festival, complete with song and dance and featuring an array of authentic Artsakh breads made by 41 local bakers.

One of Artsakh’s oldest settlements, Khantsk is named after the fact that it was once a seat of khans. Today the village has a population of 265.

On May 21, the delegation will unveil the newly built water network as well as the community center of Aknaghbyur, a village in Artsakh’s Hadrut Region. The delegation will also visit the villages of Shosh, Taghavard, and Karmir Shuka to learn first-hand about the progress of local community-center-construction projects being carried out by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund.