BY ADROUSHAN ANDY ARMENIAN
I first wrote about my visit to the village of Kalavan, Armenia, in November of 2018. It’s an obscure and inaccessible village of 118 inhabitants hidden in the mountains of Gegharkunik province, near Lake Sevan.
Due to initiatives by the villagers over the past few years, Kalavan achieved fame as several TV stations visited the village to report on their progress. These developments were noticed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who paid an unannounced visit, to see, first-hand, the miracles taking place there.
Pashinyan spent almost an entire day in Kalavan, talking to Robert Ghukasyan and other villagers. He was very impressed by all the developments that he witnessed taking place in the village. The Prime Minister later invited Robert Ghukasyan to join his team as a Special Advisor for Rural Village Development.
Kalavan capitalized two assets. The first being archeological digs that have been taking place the last 5 to 6 years by Armenian, German, Israeli, Russian, and American scientists, which led to building the Kalavan Time-Land Foundation Center, funded by USAID and the UNDP. The center is a unique modern structure – its parallel not found in other Armenian villages. The center is serving the local and regional youth, students, and visiting archeologists and scholars.
The second asset that the villagers capitalized on was the inaccessibility of Kalavan, turning that to their advantage by developing ecotourism, extreme hiking, and several Bed and Breakfast facilities to serve visitors. Kalavan obtained such fame that their B&B’s are often sold out during the summer months.
Due to its remote location and small population, Kalavan was not connected to the natural gas grid, adding considerable hardship to the villagers, particularly the elderly. After writing and making several presentations about Kalavan and the village struggles, the Las Vegas Armenian organizations, community members, and several friends from Los Angeles enthusiastically supported two projects, raising over $10,000 in donations.
In August,I visited Kalavan for a second time, accompanied by fellow Las Vegans, MaryRose Simon, my daughters Hera, and Carnie Armenian, to witness first-hand the completed projects. Simon, in addition to her previous donations, generously donated two computers and a printer to the Kalavan Village School.
While visiting the school, we noticed the primitive and unsanitary conditions of the restroom. Unfortunately, due to unavailable funds, renovating or replacing the restroom has not been a priority for the regional school board. On our drive back to Yerevan, we kept discussing the unsanitary condition of the restroom and the challenge in using it during the winter months. Motivated to improve the students and staff’s well-being, we have pledged to help the school build new restrooms.
A preliminary drawing and cost for building a new restroom by a local contractor is currently estimated at $15,000. So far, we have raised $5,000 for this project and will continue our efforts to reach out to Nevada and California individuals and organizations for their contributions. Please help us in improving the Kalavan Village School’s restroom conditions.
We wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and we greatly appreciate your continued support and donations.
Armenian American Cultural Society of Las Vegas – A 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization
You may forward your donations to AACS, 2054 East Desert Inn Road, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89169.
Adroushan Andy Armenian is the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Las Vegas.