STEPANAKERT—Ararat Avanesyan, a soldier wounded in the Artsakh Liberation War in the early 90s, celebrated housewarming Tuesday in the Patara village of Askeran region, Artsakh.
The house was purchased and renovated by the Tufenkian Foundation, with shared funding from Ralph Yirikian, General Manager of VivaCell-MTS and the New York St. Illuminator Cathedral’s Zarukian Fund recently established by Azaduhi Zarukian.
Askeran Administration Head Sergey Grigoryan, Patara Village Mayor Karen Arzumanyan and Tufenkian Foundation Executive Director Raffi Doudaklian attended the event.
Ararat was one of the first freedom fighters to join the liberation movement, and was heavily wounded in battle, losing one leg and facing a number of health difficulties since. Today, at the age of 47, he lives in Patara with his wife and 3 teenage daughters. Until recently, the family did not have a home of their own and had to take up temporary residence at a relatives’ house.
This is the 9th housewarming celebrated in Artsakh in the framework of Tufenkian Foundation’s “Housing for Wounded Soldiers” initiative. Aimed at supporting families of soldiers in difficult housing situations, the initiative was launched in April 2016, in response to the Four Day War. Since then, with funds raised during the 2016 emergency appeal and through additional support from individual donors, 9 houses have been built, reconstructed or purchased for Artsakh’s wounded soldiers.
“It is due to the courage and sacrifice of soldiers like Ararat that our homeland is now free. Supporting these soldiers is an essential duty for all of us, with which we express our everlasting gratitude to the brave sons of Artsakh,” Tufenkian Foundation Executive Director Raffi Doudaklian said during the housewarming event.
Though initially intended to assist soldiers of the April War, the project was later expanded to include Artsakh’s wounded soldiers with urgent housing needs, regardless of which war or battle they were injured in. Ararat Avanesyan is the 3rd soldier of the 90s Liberation War to benefit from the project. The geography of the initiative was also expanded during the past two years, ranging from large towns like Stepanakert and Hadrut to small, remote villages in Artsakh’s border regions.
All nine soldiers so far included in the initiative faced socio-economic struggles and lived in deplorable housing conditions that were detrimental to the health and well-being of their families. Moreover, due to their battle injures, they were unable to renovate their current homes or work to purchase new ones. Like many of these soldiers, Ararat Avanesyan’s family endured such conditions for many years after his injury. Having a home they could call their own was a dream for this family throughout all those years.
The house in Patara was purchased last November and has been fundamentally reconstructed and renovated to ensure that it provides dignified living for Ararat’s family. In addition to general improvements and repairs, a kitchen and a bathroom have been built. Also, through specific adjustments, the house has been adapted to Ararat’s mobility needs (Ararat walks with crutches).
Although the 2016 emergency has ended, the housing needs for Artsakh’s soldiers is ongoing. With many wounded soldiers requiring similar assistance, the Foundation will continue this work indefinitely.
The Tufenkian Foundation was launched in 1999 by entrepreneur James Tufenkian with the mission to empower the initiatives of local citizens, support most vulnerable groups, promote environmental protection and awareness, and advance social justice in Armenia. Since 2003, the Foundation has broadened its scope to Artsakh, where it promotes resettlement and development projects in the vulnerable border zones of the region.